Global Apparel Sales Push Ahead in 2012

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Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

27 thoughts on “Global Apparel Sales Push Ahead in 2012”

  1. I think it is great to see that globally the overall apparel sales are growing from 2008. It is interesting that Europe is in negative growth. Clothing in Europe is more expensive and people often tend to buy less of it.

    1. EU was struggling with the soveigt debt crisis, so it is not too surprising that their sales dropped last year. consumer expenditure is always correlated with the household income level (I hope our TMD/students have a solid understanding of consumer theories) .

  2. This may be a long shot, but could another reason for the negative growth pattern in the EU be due in part to the fact that consumers in Europe have different spending habits? Are spending habits of consumers taken into account when this kind of data is collected? After traveling to Europe this past winter, I got the impression that Europeans are willing to spend more for higher quality apparel and wear garments for a longer time. In the US however, consumers have a “spend less and throw-away” mentality. I understand that consumer sales dropped because of the sovereign debt crisis last year, but consumer spending habits and patterns which vary among cultures are very interesting to me.

    1. I think that is a great point, I agree that many Europeans spend more are individual items of higher quality unlike in the US as you stated. I am not sure if this related to the negative growth pattern but I definitely see it as a possibility. Not needing to buy clothing as often would cause fluctuation in consumer buying patterns.

    2. interesting points. I do believe consumer behavior matters! I also believe that’s why the Western EU countries can remain apparel manufacturing despite their high labor cost. You need consumers base to sell your products. But in terms of the data in the figure in particular, are you suggesting there were less quality apparel to offer to the EU consumers so that they stop buying?

      1. I agree with this point also. I think understanding the consumer his more than half the battle. If you are able to understand that consumers in Europe want higher quality long lasting items than that is a huge benefit to you and you are able to supply them with products they are interested in at less cost and less hectic order schedule for you.

  3. I’m not surprised to see that the Asian market saw increases in its retail apparel sales. Asian’s are seeing more and more financial growth which ultimately leads to increased spending habits. When I was studying abroad in Italy, whenever I walked by a Louis Vuitton store, an Asian was walking out with a shopping bag. I think it very interesting to observe Asian consumers and their spending. This map certainly complements what I have noticed on my own. Alternatively, I am not surprised to see that Italy had a negative sales growth. Italians live a very frugal lifestyle. Very few indulge in the latest technologies and even fewer indulge in a luxurious lifestyle by means of their wardrobes.

    1. good observation. it is all about the GDP per capita. China is a country of 1.3 billion people. even only 5% of them are the rich, it is a luxury market of million consumers~

    2. I agree with your statement. I also find it interesting to look at the changing trends over the past years of spending patterns of Asian consumers. I feel that today Asian consumers are living lives that many Americans had become accustomed to years ago. A lot of Americans have lost that lifestyle and have had to cut back on their spending. I wonder if Asian consumers are headed in the same direction as we once were, or if they will be able to maintain the lifestyle that they are currently living.

  4. I agree with Kristen Laurino because today the Asian markets are increasing more and more in their retail apparel sales. Spring semester of 2012 I was also abroad in Italy and that is when I noticed that Asians we always at high end designer stores buying their retail. Like Kristen mentioned above, Italians do live a very frugal lifestyle. When living in Italy for four months I did not see an Italian with a blackberry, or iPhone, or even iPod. They do not care about the latest technologies and luxurious lifestyle which makes Italy have a negative sales growth. Asians seem to indulge in a more luxurious lifestyle buying all high end fashion and the latest technology.

  5. I was actually surprised when I saw this map, although it makes sense because of what we have studied this far. Asia has the most increase with growth, and that is because their economy is doing well and expanding. People are more willing to go out there and buy newer technology or other goods if they can afford them. Asia has a large population and even though there is only a small percentage of wealthy people, it is still more people that can afford those things than other countries that have less people. I was surprised to see that the U.S. was one of the countries that had the least amount of growth. I know that many people in the U.S. were hit hard with the economy and recession, but I thought things were starting to change. The U.S. always seemed like people were greedy and always needed to have the newest piece of technology or some else. I would have though they would have had 5.0-9.9% growth instead of 0-4.9% growth. Europe doesn’t surprise me with everything that is going on with the EU and the economy.

    1. I agree with the above comment because of the knowledge we have from class about the growth of Asia over the years. I believe the amount of people living there has a large affect on this because of the demands of everyone. It is also strange to me that the US has the least amount of growth because I know how much money some people do spend on clothing and the fact that there are so many wealthy people it would make more sense if there was more growth.

  6. It is interesting to see how the BRIC countries are the ones growing the most in apparel sales. I feel like the U.S. and the E.U. are so developed that they are both experiencing debt and recessions, therefore consumers are spending less. So it doesn’t surprise me that they aren’t growing that much. We have talked about the BRIC countries developing, but this picture puts it into perspective on what countries are really starting to spend more. This is also interesting because it opens many other opportunities for exporters and businesses. American brands can see opportunity, and open up stores in these developing countries. Especially in Brazil and China, where consumers are starting to be more brand conscious

    1. I agree. But in terms of the the size, the US, the EU and Japan are still the largest import markets in the world. I ever did a study which shows the BRICs only accounted for 3.1% of world apparel imports by the end of 2010. This is also largely becuase these countries mostly consume domestically-made apparel.

  7. I think China and BRIC having the largest in growth makes sense considering they are slowly becoming the leaders in Textile & Apparel in my eyes. China has a growing middle class and can afford the products so maybe American should take this into consideration. By opening businesses in China it could be very successful. The one thing I found strange was the negative growth in EU. I always think europeans are more likely to buy their own garments over other countries.

    1. T&A is a buyer driven industry. Consumers’ expenditure is determined by their income level. Somehow I wish we have course to systematically cover the science of consumer expenditure.

  8. It is not surprising to me that countries in Europe had negative growth in 2012. Consumers in Europe are really feeling the weight of the economic crisis. I would like to think that things will get better soon but I know things will get worse in areas, like Greece, before they actually get better. I travel to Greece every summer to see my family and when I went in August it felt very different. Certain areas are hurting more than others; for example, Athens is in a worse position then Ioannina in northern Greece, but I could still sense frustration among the people.

    With that being said… It is refreshing to see apparel sales growth in other regions around the world! Hopefully sales continues to increase!

  9. I was surprised to see that there were a couple countries in South America that had more growth than the U.S. and some countries in Europe. Typically when I think about South America, I think of it more as developing countries, especially when compared to the U.S., that can’t afford to spend like Americans or Europeans can. I also don’t see those countries as being in the same playing field as the Asian countries that had just as much growth. I’m actually quite curious as to how these countries managed to do this.

  10. I couldn’t agree more with what the rest of the comments above mine. Although I have never traveled to Europe or Asia before, just from taking classes like fashion forecasting and textile markets, European luxury brands are in high demand for Asian consumers. I think about the times I go to an outlet mall called Woodbury Commons in New York, I always found it peculiar about the amount of Asian people traveling by bus to shop at the outlet stores. It’s a trend for wealthy Asians right now and it’s turning out to be another case of “keeping up with the Joneses”.

  11. I think one of the most interesting parts of this diagram is the negative growth in Europe. With such a big luxury market over there I could not believe it was negative even with a poor economy especially because many Europeans are very fashion forward and the first to keep up with the newest trends. On the other hand I was surprised to see Chinese, Asian and part of South America and how their apparel sales increased. I never really saw South America as a fashion forward area before but I guess with their growing and merging economies this makes sense. I was also surprised by the Chinese sales and Asian sales because I felt like these consumers did more of their shopping overseas in Manhattan ,Europe, etc. and I never really realized just how much was done on the home continent.

  12. This map demonstrates the beginnings of new shifts in the demand of apparel around the globe and which economies are thriving because of it. While China and the BRIC’s are projected to be the next leaders in the T&A industry, when interpreting these results I couldn’t help, but think about population as a factor. According to the Population Reference Bureau, as of 2012 China and India are the top two most populated countries; Brazil and Russia follow in the top ten (PRB). It is also expected that China’s consumer class will triple by 2020. I know there are many more factors that go into yielding these results, but, as a simple one: the more people in a country = more that need clothing to meet their everyday needs.

    PRB. http://www.prb.org/pdf12/2012-population-data-sheet_eng.pdf

  13. I agree with Kristen Laurino. I’m definitely not surprised to see that Asia has been having increasing retail sales. China has a large growing middle class. These middle class citizens have extra money to spend. I have also learned from personal experience that Asians are more brand conscious and fashion conscious. So it makes sense that they are spending a little more to buy luxurious clothing and accessories.
    Countries in south America and countries like China have more growth than the U.S. I wasn’t TOO surprised by this. This chart reminds me of the stages in development in the Textile Complex. These different stages that include embryonic, early export of textile, more advanced production of fabric and apparel, golden age, full maturity and finally significant decline. Countries included in the embryonic stage include newly developing countries. These newly developing countries are defined by Kunz and Garner as “Nations whose overall economic conditions fall well below the world average in measure such as GDP.” These countries are just starting to begin early stages of apparel production and are trying to break into the textile market competition. Developing countries are included in the early export of apparel stage, more advanced production of fabric and apparel stage and golden age stage. These stages differ by how well this country is thriving. During different stages countries will gain access to creating different forms of textiles and fabrics, such as advanced synthetic fibers. Developing countries have significantly improved their overall economic conditions beyond those of newly developing countries. The final stages of this cycle are the full maturity stage and the significant decline stage. Kunz and Garner refer to developed countries as “those deemed to have shifted their primary emphasis from producing textiles and apparel to consuming them.” The U.S. no longer produces apparel products now it is consuming them. This production has been declining. Countries like Bangladesh and Taiwan are in their earlier stages of this development, while China is gradually getting out of the golden age and heading into the stage of fully maturity. The U.S. is already in the gradually declining stage that most capital intensive countries are in. It is inevitable, this cycle has been proven to happen to all countries.

  14. I was actually really surprised when I saw this map. I think it is really great to see that globally, overall apparel sales have been increasing since 2008. Asia has the most increase with growth, and that may be because their economy is doing well and expanding. People are more willing to go out there and buy new technology products and goods if they can afford them. Also, Asia has a large population so there are more people that can afford things than other countries that have less people. I was shocked to see that the U.S. was one of the countries that had the least amount of growth. I know that many people in the U.S. are suffering from the economic recession but I thought things were starting to improve. I also found it interesting that Europe is in negative growth. This may be because clothing in Europe is more expensive so people buy less of it.

  15. I too studied abroad in Italy and saw how many Asian people were shopping in high end stores. Italians had no interest in shopping in them. It does not surprise me that their apparel sales had decreased because Italians for the most part believe in buying fewer articles of clothing with better quality. This was actually told to me by an Italian and they also said that we Americans buy lots of clothing but it’s cheap. Apparently that’s not true seeing as how the map states that our apparel sales have not increased much, or at all.

    1. I definitely agree with what has been said: in many European countries, it is quality over quantity – and in the US, it is reverse. I have family who live overseas and they are much more inclined to buy expensive, quality clothing to last as opposed to buy cheap clothes at places like Wal-Mart. I feel this is because many Americans are raised with a belief that convenience and disposability are important in life. It takes a long time to unlearn these bad habits, and fast-paced Americans are loathe to “waste” their time. Everything must be now, now, now, and so impulsive buying is rampant. Perhaps European countries, being a little slower paced, are a bit more careful in their purchases.

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