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Amazon Leads With Apparel and Footwear Shoppers, But Could Be Reaching a Plateau

Amazon has gained major traction as a fashion destination, according to a newly released report from Coresight Research.

Data from late February—before the decline in apparel spending due to the spread of the coronavirus—revealed that the online titan has considerably widened its lead on other sites and retailers over the past year.

About 70 percent of U.S. apparel shoppers now buy clothes and shoes on Amazon, the survey said. That’s a full 10 percentage points higher than in 2019, and nearly 25 percent higher than in 2018.

Prime members are the essential drivers of this spending, with 80 percent of Amazon insiders purchasing these categories on the marketplace. Analysts estimate that account holders make up around 58 percent of all Amazon apparel shoppers. Even without a Prime membership, more than two-fifths of shoppers are still buying wardrobe items on the site.

In the short term, Amazon will see lukewarm demand for apparel and footwear as the pandemic looms, analysts said.

As with other retailers selling non-essential items, the coronavirus has spoiled many shoppers’ appetites for fun, discretionary purchases. Coresight Research projects that when the disease’s dampening effect finally lifts, shoppers will flood the e-tailer in substantial numbers.

But even if demand resumes at similar levels, Amazon may be hitting a plateau with its fashion offering. Projections for demand uplift over the coming year were smaller than in years prior, analysts said.

They also recorded virtually no difference this year between the proportion of shoppers that had bought clothing and shoes on the site versus those who expect to buy in the future, suggesting that a leveling off, not astronomic growth, is on the horizon for the site’s fashion offering.

This year, about 39 percent of Amazon apparel shoppers said they spent more of their budget on the marketplace than they did one year earlier—about the same response as in 2019.

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In order to establish further gains in market share for these categories, analysts said, Amazon must work to drive up purchasing frequency as well as average cart size.

Even if Bezos’ brainchild is slowing its roll when it comes to accumulating new apparel shoppers, the site is certainly pulling meaningful market share from its competitors.

Shoppers who admitted shifting their footwear and apparel spending to Amazon over the past 12 months primarily cited big-box stores as the shopping destinations they left behind.

Nearly 40 percent of those respondents said they had reallocated dollars to Amazon from shares of their budget usually spent at Walmart. About 38 percent said the same about Target, while 28 percent named Kohl’s as their spurned shopping spot.

Those figures don’t spell doom for the retailers in question; in fact, they reveal that Walmart, Target and Kohl’s are top contenders for consumers’ hearts and wallets.

Conversely, 21 percent of consumers doling out more money to Amazon have pulled spending from Macy’s and J.C. Penney, in what could be dire losses for the embattled department stores.

Nike remains the most sought-after brand on Amazon’s marketplace, in both the footwear and apparel categories. While the company announced last year that it would no longer sell directly on the platform, the stand has had a minimal impact on the brand’s on-site presence. According to Coresight Research analysis, 92 percent of Nike clothing sold on Amazon is listed by private sellers.

The site’s private-label brands are also snowballing in popularity, jumping from the fourth-most-bought “brand” on the site to the No. 2 spot this year. Collectively, Amazon’s private labels beat out Under Armour, Adidas, Hanes and Levi’s in consumer goodwill.

Fast, free delivery is still the primary driver for shoppers buying footwear and apparel on the site. About 70 percent of shoppers cited it as the most important driver in their purchasing decisions, while 57 percent said they enjoyed the ease of the platform’s search capabilities.

About 46 percent of shoppers said they chose Amazon for its high availability of stock, while about 44 percent said they were attracted to the wide variety of brands available on the site. About 44 percent also said they chose to shop on Amazon because they believe the site offers good value for the money spent.

While Amazon has long been working to establish itself as a haven for fashionistas, the efforts haven’t totally paid off.

The platform has had major success with household name brands and private labels, but it hasn’t been able to shake the perception that it’s a discount site. Nearly 43 respondents said they always expect to pay less than full price for products on Amazon.

While more than one-quarter of shoppers said they were interested in trying out the company’s private label brands, about one-fifth also said they wished the platform would add more high-end premium and luxury brands to its product mix.

Despite the critiques, apparel and footwear remains the most-bought category on the site, in line with similar findings from 2019. Overall, nearly all (95 percent) of surveyed respondents said they had bought something on Amazon over the past year.