Tired of spending hours browsing clothes at the mall?
It would seem many other people are as well, with more and more shoppers turning to online retailers such as Amazon for clothing, purses, jewelry and other accessories. The online shopping behemoth has grown so popular that financial services group Cowen estimates it will be the number one clothing retailer in the US by 2017, supplanting previous stalwarts such as Macy’s, JC Penny and Kohl’s.
Even as American spending on clothing decreased by 1.5 percent for the month of June- continuing a trend of declining clothing sales- Amazon has enjoyed remarkably robust growth over the same period. In fact, Amazon’s year over year growth has averaged 29 percent. Compare that figure to the 3 and 2 percent decline in growth seen at Walmart and Target, respectively, to appreciate how aggressive a player Amazon has been in the clothing sector.
The downside of Amazon – will consumers get over it?
Amazon does lack the convenience of trying on clothes in person to confirm fit and style, but factors such as quick shipping and free returns ameliorate those concerns somewhat. Cowen also found that 11 percent of Walmart and Target shoppers purchase clothing on Amazon as well, which suggests that many customers “window shop” at brick-and-mortars before purchasing the same goods for a lower price on Amazon. The zero cost of retail overhead greatly contributes to Amazon’s ability to offer lower prices than many of the traditional retailers.
While Amazon does have tentative plans to open physical locations in the future, its online success should serve as a warning to major clothing retailers that there has been a shift in the shopping paradigm. With more and more Americans shopping online the importance of centralized shopping, such as department stores and malls, has greatly declined; shoppers no longer need to drive to town to find clothing or goods when they can simply order and have it delivered straight to their home. If these businesses hope to turn the tide they will have to find a new to compete online before Amazon, eBay and other online retailers encroach into their physical space.