U.S. apparel and footwear consumer behavior - Statistics & Facts

Whether one is rich or poor, young or old, clothing is an important mode of expression among all humans. It serves not only the practical purposes of covering oneself in the name of modesty and protection from the elements, but as a statement to the rest of the world about the wearer’s identity. Americans in particular love their clothing; the United States is the largest apparel market in the world. In 2017, the average American consumer spent about 379 U.S. dollars on footwear over the course of the year.

Where one buys clothing is almost as important as what one buys. Americans have a clear preference for national retailers rather than local independent clothing companies. Brands like Nike, Levi’s, and Adidas are especially popular among U.S. consumers. It is worth noting that two out of the top three primarily produce athletic apparel and footwear. In fact, nearly 10 percent of U.S. consumers purchased sports apparel, shoes, or gear more frequently than once a month in 2016. It is not uncommon to find Americans of all ages wearing track suits, yoga pants, or athletic footwear when they have no intention of working out. Nike, in particular, is a very popular sport shoe brand in the United States.

Among young U.S. consumers, American Eagle is the most well-loved clothing brand. The fast fashion retailer is known for being moderately affordable and trendy with a wide selection of clothing and shoes. Once Americans have found a clothing brand they like, they tend to keep purchasing clothing from that brand rather than try their luck with a new brand. According to a November 2016 survey, physical stores are the preferred retail channel for purchasing clothing and footwear among U.S. consumers. Ask anyone who regularly buys clothing online and one is almost guaranteed to hear a story about purchasing an article of clothing online only to find that they did not like it once they tried it on.

The sustainability of clothing purchases is a controversial and pertinent topic now that shopping for apparel and footwear is easier than ever with the rise of online retailers. Approximately 20 percent of U.S. consumers believe in the importance of sustainability when it comes to purchasing clothing. When it comes to deciding whether or not to shop at a certain clothing store, Americans are most concerned with prices and location.

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