Denim and Sneakers Win Popularity Contest Amongst Kids Heading Back to School

July through September sales critical to annual performance for many Apparel and Footwear retailers

TORONTO, August 14, 2012 – Jeans and running shoes are the unofficial uniform for kids heading back to school, and retailers who can deliver will reap the rewards of this vital shopping season. According to a recent study from leading market research company The NPD Group, Denim is the number-one ranking Apparel category this time of year amongst teens ages 13 to 17, while this period also accounts for 28 per cent of total Children's Footwear sales, driven primarily by athletic shoes.

Second only to the holiday season, back-to-school shopping is a significant part of the Canadian retail calendar and produces a substantial portion of annual sales for many Apparel and Footwear merchants.

Last year, the Children’s Apparel segment thrived with a 34 per cent increase from July to August. This period also represented 24 per cent of overall annual sales, but was responsible for 27 per cent of all Children’s Apparel segment sales.

“Canadian retailers are anxiously awaiting the return of shoppers from vacation to maintain the sales momentum sparked by an unusually warm spring,” says Kathy Perrotta, director of Sales for Canada Fashion, The NPD Group. “There is a concern that the record temperatures might mean a delay in back-to-school shopping, but the Apparel and Footwear segments are historically strong performers that stores can rely on for revenue.”

Though the national heat wave has inspired Canadians to shop, the economy’s instability has us hunting for bargains. Total Apparel sales for the 12-month period ending June 2012 have remained flat at $23.1 billion, as cautious consumers continue to be purposeful in their spending. This trend is particularly apparent in the Teen’s Apparel segment, where young shoppers with limited budgets are drawn to savings.

In 2011, Teen’s Apparel Specialty Retailers (small stores that specialize in a specific range of merchandise) reported that 65 per cent of purchases made by teenagers were sale items. Further, 52 per cent of denim bought during the back-to-school period was discounted, with average prices ranging between $30 and $50.

“Although the Specialty Retailer channel dominates amongst teen buyers in Canada, we have seen an increase in shopping activity with Mass Retailers selling a variety of affordably priced products and Off-Price Retailers selling brand names at discounted costs,” continued Perrotta. “Knowing this, vendors should not ignore the buying power of teenagers, who can help to offset sale pricing by boosting store profits with purchase volume.”

Amidst growing competition from foreign retailers entering the country and increased personal exemption limits for Canadians returning home from abroad, the back-to-school season holds increased importance for retailers in 2012 that are now relying on habitual shopping behaviours to bring in the revenue they are accustomed to.

Press Contact

Kim McLynn


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

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