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The Where Behind the Wear: Americans Are Buying Clothes In-Store, Online And On Their Phones
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The Where Behind the Wear: Americans Are Buying Clothes In-Store, Online And On Their Phones

With the weather beginning to warm up across the U.S., many Americans are likely shopping for the latest summer styles before heading to the beach and Fourth of July cookouts.

Still, clothes shopping isn’t just a seasonal activity—shopping for apparel is a regular and frequent activity for most U.S. consumers. According to Nielsen Channel Track, roughly 70% of American shoppers have made an apparel purchase in the last six months.

But for retailers to attract consumers today, they need to put themselves in these shoppers’ shoes. Knowing what they want and what is important to them is essential in the competition for share of wallet. And in today’s digital age, that means understanding whether they’re heading in-store, online or on their phone.

With the abundance of digital devices at consumers’ fingertips today, it may come as a surprise that most shoppers (82%) who’ve bought clothes in the last six months made purchases at a physical store location.

However, while brick-and-mortar may wear the pants when it comes to sales, retailers and brands shouldn’t ignore online and mobile.

Almost half of U.S. shoppers (41%) have bought clothes online in the last six months, and roughly 12% made a mobile apparel purchase. In addition, e-commerce should drive the retail industry going forward: Nielsen TDLinx projects online sales growth of 12.2% between 2015 and 2020*.

Beyond sales, modern shoppers expect retailers to deliver a connected, seamless shopping experience all around.

As a result, online and mobile channels also serve as important sources of information for shoppers, even when they ultimately make apparel purchases at physical store locations. These channels provide a means to research product reviews, compare prices and product options and find store information. Among the 52% of shoppers who “shopped around” before purchasing in the past six months, roughly 60% shopped around online and roughly 7% shopped around via mobile.

And conversely, physical store locations served as webrooms and showrooms for shoppers who ultimately made apparel purchases via a mobile device and online. Whether these shoppers wanted to try on clothes or shoes to gauge the fit, touch the materials or zoom in for a closer look, roughly 63% of mobile purchasers shopped around before making a purchase. And of these shoppers, 41% shopped around via online and 29% shopped around at a physical location.

An array of retailers—from big box to department store—are giving shoppers an integrated shopping experience. These experiences are aimed at developing synergies between the on-and offline realms rather than isolating each of them in solitude. For example, many retailers are diversifying their options for purchase delivery. The vast majority of website purchases are still shipped directly to the shopper, but roughly one in 10 online shoppers have used in-store pickup for apparel, clothing and shoe purchases in the last six months.

Consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to the way they interact with retailers—from using mobile coupons, to reading online reviews, to trying on clothes at the mall. To be successful, retailers must meet the high expectations of shoppers and deliver an integrated shopping experience across channels.

For more information, download Nielsen’s Apparel Purchasing report

*Nielsen TDLinx& Nielsen Analytics; CAGRs (compounded annual growth rates – dollar basis).