IBM forecasts strong apparel sales for fall

Armonk, N.Y. -- Apparel sales are expected to post year-over-year gains during the fall shopping season (August, September and October), with especially big increases in children's apparel, according to an analytics-based forecast by IBM.

Sales in children's apparel this fall are expected to total $2.6 billion, an 11.1% increase over the prior-year period. Women's apparel sales are projected to total $9.2 billion, up 3.1% over last year.

Men’s apparel sales August through October are forecast to increase 5.5% over last year, to $1.9 billion. Footwear sales are expected to total $7 billion, up 3.2%

The IBM study indicates that for men's apparel, September sales will be up 10.5% over the 20-year average. For women's apparel, September sales will be up 2.15% over the 20-year average.

“This indicates that consumers are rotating between categories,” said IBM retail analytics leader Michael Haydock. “Adults are holding back on purchasing for themselves during their back-to-school shopping for the kids. But once the kids are in school, moms and dads will be looking to treat themselves. This category rotation, which became prominent after the economic downturn began in 2008, seems to be persisting.”

Haydock noted that it is important for retailers to understand these trends and adjust advertising, staffing and inventory accordingly to meet fast-changing demand.

The forecast relies on historical data and sophisticated analytics software developed by IBM to analyze both long-term trends and seasonal peaks. In producing the forecast, IBM applies analytics technology to economic data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau.