Fitness Fashion: Workout Motivation or Simply Loungewear?

Less than 20 per cent of fitness apparel sales in Canada used for sport or exercise

TORONTO, January 15, 2013 – With the beginning of each new year comes the inevitable ambition to re-examine priorities, reflect on areas for improvement and make the lifestyle changes necessary to achieve fresh goals. For many this involves revisiting abandoned fitness regimes or taking up new activities, with trends in apparel sales indicating which sex is more inclined to hit the ground running this month.

According to global information company The NPD Group, historical data shows that apparel and footwear purchases intended for sport peak in January and February. When looking at activewear purchases in January 2012 versus 2011, both men’s and women’s activewear intended for sports and general exercise grew by double digits, however women represent the lion’s share in dollar sales (60 per cent compared to 41 per cent of men) and unit frequency (59 per cent compared to 41 per cent of men).

“New clothing or equipment is often a motivator for kick starting a steady workout routine and we consistently see Canadians buying apparel around resolution time,” said Tracey Jarosz, executive director for Canada Fashion at The NPD Group. “Many are looking for inspiration to help them shake the indulgence of the holiday season, but sales often indicate that women are making more of an investment in their workout wear.”

Though Canadians are investing in key activewear commodities such as athletic shoes, bottoms and outerwear in January and February, they are leaving smaller items behind. For example, sport bras peak in June and July, but barely register at the beginning of the year. This presents a key opportunity for retailers and bra manufacturers to make a mark with enthusiastic female consumers looking to update their fitness wardrobes.

For many activewear retailers, however, the new year does promise a revenue boost, even though certain items remain relatively consistent in dollar sales throughout the year. Purchases for yoga apparel are one example, likely attributed to the casualization of activewear and the intent to use the clothing for activities other than sport.

“Dressing comfortably no longer means dressing sloppily, and yoga gear is a perfect example of how very casual clothing has become a fashionable, mainstream trend,” continued Jarosz. “In fact, wearing yoga attire is about more than just comfort; it’s a statement that communicates a year-round commitment to both health and fitness.”

Data retrieved at the end of October 2012 revealed that one third of activewear sales are intended for casual or everyday use, while only 19 per cent is for sports or exercise. This trend is higher among women than men, but has seen a one per cent decline year-over-year.

Source: The NPD Consumer Tracker for Apparel and Footwear rolling 12 months October. NPD maintains an online panel of nearly 100,000 consumers that tell us about their shopping habits.

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Daina Astwood-George
APEX Public Relations
416-924-4442 ext. 235

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

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