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Women’s Category Leads Consumer Spending on Apparel in January

Womenswear continues to lead consumer spending on apparel, according to data released last week by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Personal consumption expenditures on female apparel had its biggest monthly rise in two years in January, up 3.1% on a 12-month smoothed basis, to an annualized $178 billion, compared to a 1.6% increase in men’s and boys’ apparel spending and a 0.8% increase in childrenswear. All three categories, however, saw accelerated growth compared to the previous month.

The increase in womenswear, by far the largest segment in the apparel market, helped push the total apparel spending increase to 2.5%, edging ahead of footwear, which rose 2.3%. Total spending on clothing in the U.S. was $294 billion in 2014, according to government figures.

Spending on men’s and children’s apparel, though growing more slowly than women’s, has also been trending up in recent months. All of these categories underperformed total consumer spending growth, however, which was 3.9% in January, lifted primarily by increases in purchases of automobiles, pharmaceuticals and other medical products, as well as meals eaten outside of the home – partially offset by a plunge in spending on gasoline.

January represented the eighth straight month of accelerating women’s apparel spending growth.

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