Canadian Apparel & Basics Market Declined by -2 per cent in 2017, reports The NPD Group

Toronto, ON March 15, 2018 – According to new research by The NPD Group, the Canadian Apparel & Basics Market declined by -2 per cent in 2017 to $27 billion.

Driving the declines in 2017 were Tees (-7 per cent), Coats (-10 per cent), and Casual Pants (-8 per cent).

But while the apparel market declined overall, some key categories experienced strong growth during the period. Categories such as Sweatshirts, Panties, Bra’s, and Non-Athletic Jackets all saw strong growth overall in 2017.

The Evolution of Athleisure

Non-Active sales declined (-4 per cent) on the year while Activewear continued on its growth trajectory, although not as steep a rise as in past years. Dollar sales increased +5 per cent to $6.2 billion, which equates to 23 per cent of the total sales in the apparel & basics industry. Sales of both men’s and women’s activewear grew in 2017, but the men’s category supplied much of the growth, reaching $2.5B in sales with a 9 per cent increase year over year.

That said, the athleisure trend has fundamentally changed the way that consumers think about apparel. As a result, an expectation of comfort has emerged - true athleisure has slowed, but the imbedded expectation of the active properties is becoming increasingly important.

For example, sales of women’s Active Bottoms saw four consecutive months of declines in the back half of 2017; however, nearly 20 per cent of all Adult Apparel & Basics products now contain some type of added “active features”. This subset of non-active products with “active features” is actually growing twice as fast as the market. This can also be seen in categories such as socks, bras, and underwear, where even non-active products now include some type of “active feature”.


Products that Contain “Active Features”

Product Category Percentage of Products That Have Active Features
Apparel & Basics 18 per cent
Socks 30 per cent
Bras 18 per cent
Men’s Underwear 20 per cent



Dressing Up Drives Growth

Another trend that emerged in 2017 was the comeback of “dressing up. Key categories such as Jackets, Blazers, and Suit Separates- Bottoms all saw double digit percentage increases in 2017. Dresses also posted strong growth on the year, up +3 per cent. 


In 2017, Millennials (21-33) were the only generation to post growth. Boomers (53-71) and Gen Z (<20) both posted declines on the year. The millennial cohort, however, saw growth of 16 per cent, representing $986 Million in incremental sales. This represents the strongest growth we have seen from the cohort in 3 years (2016 -1 per cent, 2015 +11 per cent). This trend is encouraging since the millennial cohort alone accounts for 27 per cent of annual apparel dollar sales.

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Erick Bauer

The NPD Group, Inc.
900 West Shore Road
Port Washington, NY 11050

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