Back-to-College Spending

According to the National Center for Education Statistics fall college enrollment in 2010 was 21.0 million. Enrollment declined to 20.2 million in 2014 but is projected to increase to 20.9 million in 2017. Today’s market size shows the total amount spent on back-to-college items by students and their families in 2010, 2014 and 2017. The figure for 2017 is projected. In 2017, back-to-college shoppers plan on spending the most on electronics ($12.8 billion), followed by clothing ($8.0 billion) and snacks and other food items ($7.5 billion). Spending on dorm and apartment furnishings came in fourth at $5.9 billion. Spending on school supplies ranked seventh at $3.9 billion.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2010, 2014 and 2017 projected
Market size: $45.88 billion, $48.48 billion and $54.18 billion respectively
Sources: Smith, Ana Serafin, “Back-to-School and Back-to-College Spending to Reach $83.6 Billion,” National Retail Federation Press Release, July 13, 2017 available online here; U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, “Table 303.10. Total Fall Enrollment in Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions, by Attendance Status, Sex of Student, and Control of Institution: Selected Years, 1947 through 2025,” Digest of Education Statistics: 2015, December 2016 available online here.
Original source: Prosper Insights & Analytics

Back-to-School Spending

School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days
Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of a hick’ry stick
You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful, barefoot beau
And you wrote on my slate, “I Love You, Joe”
When we were a couple o’ kids
— Chorus of the popular American song School Days written by Will Cobb and Gus Edwards in 1907

While reading, writing, and arithmetic are still part of the curriculum, back-to-school supplies have changed quite a bit over the past century or more. Slates have been replaced by notebooks, laptops, and tablets, supplies that are on many a child’s back-to-school shopping list this year along with clothing, shoes, calculators, folders, pencils, backpacks, and lunchboxes.

Today’s market size shows the amount spent on back-to-school items for children in kindergarten through 12th grade in 2007, 2016 and 2017. Figures for 2017 are projected. While parents and guardians do most of the back-to-school spending, the National Retail Federation found that preteens and teenagers plan on spending more of their own money on school supplies in 2017 than they have in the past.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2007, 2016 and 2017 projected
Market size: $18.48 billion, 27.38 billion and 29.58 billion respectively
Sources: Smith, Ana Serafin, “Back-to-School and Back-to-College Spending to Reach $83.6 Billion,” National Retail Federation Press Release, July 13, 2017 available online here; “School Days (1907 song),” Wikipedia, December 2016 available online here.

Plus-Size Clothing

Plus-size clothing are generally found in specialty clothing stores or out-of-the-way places in mainstream clothing stores. In 2017, some retailers are experimenting with combining the non-plus-size clothing and the plus-size clothing on the same racks in the same section of their stores. According to Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, “[p]art of what they’re trying to do is recognize we live more in a size 12 or 14 or 16 world than we do a size 4 (one)…In a hypermarket store…where you’re selling both clothing and groceries and furniture and electronics and liquor, they want to be very careful not to turn someone off… If you are making that woman feel awkward about shopping for clothing, maybe she won’t buy her dishwasher soap or wine there, also.”

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2013 and 2016
Market size: $17.4 billion and $20.4 billion respectively
Source: Zlati Meyer, “Meijer to Mix Misses, Plus Sizes,” Lansing State Journal, November 6, 2016, page 26A.
Original source: NPD Group

Sneaker Resale Market

When one hears the word collectibles one may think of antiques, figurines, baseball cards or comic books. But something many of us wear on a daily basis has also become a collectible: sneakers. Rare sneakers are now being sold through social media and at trade shows. In some cases, shoes bought at retail for $200 four years ago are now listed at close to nine times that. In some cases, sneakerheads—as buyers and sellers of rare sneakers are called—are paying more than $5,000 a pair for the most coveted styles.

In the United States, about 9 million pairs of sneakers are resold each year. Today’s market size shows the estimated value of the sneaker resale market in the United States in 2016.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2016
Market size: $1.2 billion
Source: Diamond, Michael L., “Teen Finds Fortune, Heartbreak in Sneakers,” Lansing State Journal, August 28, 2016, page 6B.

Apparel Exports from Bangladesh

The enormous loss of life resulting from the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh a few weeks ago has brought the media spotlight onto that country, as well as the global network of low-end apparel manufacturing. Bangladesh, with a population of approximately 164 million, is the world’s second-largest exporter of apparel. The first largest is China with 1.35 billion people.

Today’s market size is the value of all apparel exports from Bangladesh last year. Of that total, a quarter came as general imports to the United States ($4.47 billion).

Geographic reference: Bangladesh
Year: 2012
Market size: $18 billion
Source: Adam Davidson, “Clotheslined,” The New York Times Magazine, May 19, 2013, pages 16-17.
Original source: A&M University, Texas, Prof. Munir Quddus
Posted on May 20, 2013

The Clothes We Buy

The decline of apparel manufacturing in the United States is an interesting development and outcome of globalization over the last decade or two. It is estimated currently that only 2% of apparel purchased in the United States is made in the United States.

Today’s market size is the value of imported apparel and accessories into the United States in 2002 and 2012.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2002 and 2012
Market size: $62.31 and $81.19 billion respectively
Source: “U.S. International Trade Statistics,” (315 Apparel and Accessories), a searchable database presented by the Census Bureau and available online here.
Original source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census
Posted on May 6, 2013

Formal Wear & Costume Rental Services

Formal Wear Rentals and GDP

The service sector of the U.S. economy is divided into many subsectors, one of which is the Rental and Leasing Services sector, designated in the North American Classification System with the number 532. This subsector covers activities as diverse as car rental firms, the leasing of office equipment, and the rental of formal wear and costumes. Today’s market size post looks at the last of these items, the business of renting formal wear and costumes, which has held its own over time but has not kept up with the growth of the economy generally.

The graph shows revenue for businesses engaged in renting formal wear and costumes from 1997 through 2010 and by way of comparison, the gross domestic product is presented on the graph as a line.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2010
Market size: $899 million
Source: “Table 5.1. Real Estate and Rental Leasing Services (NAICS 53)—Estimated Revenue for Employer Firms: 2002 Through 2010,” February 2, 2012, one of the tables in the 2012 Service Annual Survey, available from the Census Bureau website here. Data used in the graph come from earlier editions (2003) of the Service Annual Survey, available from the Census website here.
Original source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census
Posted on December 5, 2012

Apparel Consumption

Clothes, we all wear them and yet for the apparel industry what matters is fashion. It is through changing fashions that people are most often lured into buying more clothes than are strictly necessary. For many, of course, clothes buying is an entertainment.

Per capita spending on apparel in the United States peaked for the first decade of the new century in 2005 and then fell, gaining downward momentum with the onset of the recession and the financial crisis that followed. Complicating the downward spiral is the fact that apparel companies were caught somewhat off guard by the sharp decline in spending which led to excess inventories. As these were liquidated, overall apparel prices declined.

Today’s market size is a measure of the apparel industry based on per capita spending in the United States.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2005 and 2010
Market size: Annual, per capita spending of $1,276 and $1,136 respectively
Source: “Table 3. Age of Reference Person: Average Annual Expenditures and Characteristics,” Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2005 and 2010, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, available here
Original source: U.S. Labor Department
Posted on March 21, 2012

Clothing Stores

The sale of clothing in the United States is done through a variety of retail outlets, only a portion of which are stores dedicated primarily to the sale of clothes. Today’s market size is the value of all sales made through clothing stores in 2010. Of the total, family clothing stores had the largest share, accounting for 54% of the sales. The other clothing store segments, with their share of total clothing store sales, are as follows: women’s clothing (23%), men’s clothing (4.9%) and all other clothing stores (7.2%).

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2010
Market size: $158.8 billion
Source: “Estimates of Monthly Retail and Food Services Sales by Kind of Business: 2010,” Monthly Retail Trade Report, available online here.
Original source: U.S. Census Bureau
Posted on January 9, 2012

Clothes Stores

The sale of clothes through clothing stores is tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau by type of store: men’s clothing, women’s clothing and family clothing. In the year 2000 men’s clothing stores accounted for 9% of the category and fell to 6% by 2009. Women’s clothing stores also saw its share decline as a percent of the category from 29% in 2000 to 26% in 2009. More of us are buying our clothes at general merchandising stores and clothes stores that sell a fuller line of apparel, family clothing stores.

Today’s market size is the estimated total of sales by clothing stores in the United States in 2000 and 2009. These sales totals do not include retailers categorized under the heading general merchandisers, including department stores and warehouse clubs.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2000 and 2009
Market size: $118.2 billion and $152.3 billion respectively
Source: “Estimated Annual Sales of U.S. Retail and Food Service Firms by Kind of Business: 1998 Through 2009,” Annual Retail Trade Survey—2009, available in a PDF format here. For links to these data as well as earlier U.S. Annual Trade Survey data, check this Census Bureau site.
Original source: U.S. Bureau of the Census
Posted on October 13, 2011

The Business of Weddings

Today’s market size is an estimate of the size of the entire wedding industry in the United States—we take some license in using the word “industry” here. The things included in measuring the size of the wedding industry are many, from planning, apparel and jewelry through the ceremony, flowers, food, reception and honeymoon.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2010
Market size: $47.2 billion
Source: Toon Van Beeck and George Van Horn, “Wedding Bells are Ringing,” The RMA Journal, December 2010-January 2011, page 22-27, available online here.
Original source: IBISWorld
Posted on October 5, 2011

Apparel Sales

The market size presented here is based on estimates of the total retail sales value of all apparel sold in the United States in 1999 and ten years later, in 2009. The retail value of apparel sales over this period grew by 37.4% but when adjusted for inflation, that growth rate was actually only 8.4% for the period. By way of comparison, U.S. population growth over this period was 10.1% (from 279.3 million to 307.4 million). Worth noting, however, is the fact that while population had a steady growth rate over this period, the measure of growth between two points in time for something like apparel sales may be deceptive. In 2006, for example, retail sales of apparel in the United States were probably much higher than in 2009, a recessionary year.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 1999 and 2009
Market size: $222 and $305 billion respectively
Source: Alva, Marilyn, “Consumers Are Spending Again But They’re Picky,” Investor’s Business Daily, January 4, 2011, page A5.
Original source: Credit Suisse

Online Sale of Clothes and Shoes

The market size presented here is the total value of clothing and shoes that were sold electronically in 2003 and 2008. It is interesting to see that online sales of clothes and shoes have grown briskly over this five-year period since it was believed that such merchandise would be harder to sell online than other things, things that people would not wish to try on before purchasing. Four Census Bureau product codes are included in this market size calculation, they are 20200 (Men’s wear); 20220 (Women’s wear); 20240 (Children’s clothes), and 20260 (Footwear).

Geographic reference: United States (based on the location of the selling entity)
Year: 2003 and 2008
Market size: Sales: $5.13 and $17.06 billion respectively, representing a 233% increase.
Source: “Table 1055. Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses—Total and E-Commerce Sales by Merchandise Line,” Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2011, U.S. Census Bureau, page 663, available online here in a spreadsheet format, and here as a PDF file.
One word of clarification to help prevent any confusion about just what is being presented here. The data in the source table are provided in two columns per year, the first one called “Total,” and the second is “E-Commerce”. The column headed “Total” refers to the total sales for the industry “Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses,” [NAICS 4541], and the second column is the e-commerce portion of that industry’s total. Do not confuse the “Total” column for a measure of total sales of the product line listed in that row. It is, rather, the total sales of that product line made electronically and through mail-order houses.
Original source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.

Women’s and Girls’ Sports Uniform Production

While textile and apparel industries used to be an important sector in the United States they are among many manufacturing industries that have moved out of the United States over the last decades, for the most part. Nonetheless, there are still a few companies sewing and making garments in this country and their activities are tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau annually. Makers of women’s and girls’ team sports uniforms saw a drop in production between 2007 and 2008 of 21%. This is a large drop for a single year. Worth noting is the fact that purchases of women’s and girls’ team sports uniforms may not be down at all. It is the production of those uniforms in the United States that has fallen sharply.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2007 and 2008
Market size: $51.6 million and $40.8 million respectively
Source: Annual Survey of Manufactures 2008, March 30, 2010, available online here.
Original source: U.S. Bureau of the Census

Team Sports Uniforms, Men’s and Boys’

While textiles used to be an important industry in the United States it is one of the industries that has moved out of the United States for the most part. Nonetheless, there are still a few companies sewing and making garments in this country and those involved with making men’s and boys’ uniforms has actually seen a small increase in production between 2007 and 2008. Since earlier in the decade, however, production figures are down and follow an overall downward trajectory along with all other apparel making industries in the United States. Tomorrow we’ll have the women’s and girls’ team sports uniforms market.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2007 and 2008
Market size: $185.3 million and $191.8 million respectively
Source: Annual Survey of Manufactures 2008, March 30, 2010, available online here.
Original source: U.S. Bureau of the Census