Denim Sales on the Decline in Canada

Workout pants among styles stealing market share

TORONTO, May 21, 2014 – Canada’s denim retailers are facing stiff competition as a growing number of consumers try new pants on for size. According to leading global information company The NPD Group, jeans have seen a dip in both unit and dollar sales in the 12 months ending December 2013 (down three and five per cent respectively). In their place, the sale of active bottoms and general pants across the men’s, women’s, and children’s segments are on the rise, giving the fashion industry’s staple a run for its money.

Industry Overall

Active bottoms, the apparel standout, have seen a dollar sales growth of nearly 14 per cent in the past year, while general pants have grown by almost eight per cent. While these categories are thriving, the decline in denim sales is reflected across all price points, the only exception is among styles in the $60 to $79.99 dollar range. Though this group showed promising unit sales (up 17 per cent), it only accounts for four per cent of the overall market.

“There is always fierce competition in fashion to bring the next ‘big trend’ to market, and though denim is tried and true, consumers are quick to explore new styles,” said Sandy Silva, fashion industry analyst at The NPD Group. “Nationwide we’re seeing gravitation towards more comfortable daytime styles, such as activewear worn as loungewear and pyjama-inspired bottoms dressed up to create a laidback, luxe look, all of which has begun to take its toll on the denim industry.”

National & Gender Differences

Nationally, only Ontario – the province accounting for the largest denim spend across the country (41 per cent) – did not show a decline in sales, but instead remained flat across all categories. A similar trend exists specifically with women’s jeans, though despite nation-wide regional declines, spenders in Ontario are giving ladies’ styles their only sales increase at seven per cent. Price ranges contributing to the growth of women’s unit sales fall into two opposing brackets: styles under $39.99 and those above $80.

Men, on the other hand, are purchasing entirely in the mid-price range, with the only year-over-year unit growth in styles available for $40 to $79.99 (54 per cent). Nationally, men’s sales do not mirror women’s, as Atlantic Canada is the only region experiencing growth (34 per cent) while Ontario and the rest of Canada have declined.

“The majority of men and women have very different approaches to denim shopping; while women tend to buy based on their appreciation for deals or their desire for premium brands – two contrasting mindsets – men generally stick to the affordable styles that they’ve always known and loved,” continued Silva. “Further, while men are much more likely to wear the same jeans on various occasions, women are more inclined to buy multiple pairs that they feel are best suited for specific activities or events.”

Peak Purchasing Seasons & Sales by Age

For both men and women, the primary denim purchasing season is August through September when fall styles hit stores and deals are promoted for back to school. An additional increase in purchases also occurs in March when retailers bring in their spring lines. Despite recent lackluster sales, consumers ages 18-24 and 45+ are still big denim lovers and are the only groups to have increased their year-over-year spend.

Study Methodology:
The data in this study was collected from The NPD Group’s Online Panel. Online collection is based on North American shopping behaviour and purchase information made by individual Canadian consumers in the last seven days. Surveys are emailed each day of the week and approximately 23,000 responses are received per month, with 13,500 individuals having purchased at least one Apparel/Basics item. Sample is demographically weighted and projected to represent the Canadian population, and data is calibrated to Statistics Canada, retailer financials and client inputs.

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Press Contact

Kylee Berencsi
APEX Public Relations

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

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