NPD Group

NPD Group

March 27, 2007 12:18 ET

NPD Group: Specialty Clothing Stores Take Bite Out of Mass Retailers

Growth in the Specialty Apparel Market Outpaces Mass Retail for Two Consecutive Years

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 27, 2007) - The Mass-Channel (comprised of both national and regional players) has taken a hit as more Canadians are shopping for apparel and footwear at specialty retail stores. According to The NPD Group, a leading provider of consumer and retail information, the specialty retail channel grew its dollar volume 8 per cent from 2004, compared to flat growth in the mass retail market.

Between 2001 and 2004, Mass-Channel posted strong double digit growth (over 14 per cent), double the growth experienced by specialty channel during that period (7 per cent). However, between 2004 and 2006, that trend was reversed with specialty at 8 per cent growth and the Mass-Channel essentially flat.

"This growth indicates that consumers are enjoying the merchandise assortment and customer service available within the dedicated specialty apparel retailers," says Kaileen Millard-Ruff, Fashion Director at NPD.

Driving this growth in the specialty apparel channel are unisex retailers which have grown 24 per cent since 2001, as well as children's specialty retailers, which have grown 22 per cent from 2001. Women's specialty retailers have also experienced a 15 per cent growth in the same period.

"We're definitely seeing a shift in shopping patterns," adds Millard. "Unisex merchants such as Marks Work Warehouse and Old Navy are growing at a faster rate than women's specialty, and we're also seeing that men's specialty retailers are losing market share as the unisex group gains in influence."

The women's specialty retail market is still double the size of the unisex market, accounting for more than $4 billion in women's apparel and basics sales in 2006 (up 7 per cent from 2004), compared to almost $2 billion in unisex sales of women's apparel and basics (up 13 per cent from 2004). Men's specialty was worth $970 million in 2006 (down 7 per cent).

"This indicates how strong the growth in the unisex market place really is - for both sexes. Both men's and ladies' apparel sales at unisex specialty retailers outpaces the growth in the gender specific specialty retailers," says Millard.

About The NPD Group, Inc.

The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 1,600 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, consumer technology, commercial technology, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, foodservice, home, software, sports, toys, and wireless. For more information, visit

Contact Information

  • For further information or to arrange an interview
    with Kaileen Millard-Ruff:
    APEX Public Relations - Sandra Da Silva
    (416) 924-4442 Ext. 245