Last year was a difficult year for the US fashion industry according to figures released by market information provider The NPD Group Inc. Apparel sales for 2000 recorded a modest 2 per cent increase, reaching $182 billion last year, compared to $180 billion the previous year.

But although still a small percentage of total apparel sales, online/Internet sales showed double-digit growth in 2000.

                       US Annual Apparel Sales

                      1999 Dollar       2000 Dollar        2000 Market
                        Sales              Sales             Share
                     (in millions)     (in millions)          (%)
Total Apparel            $179,678          $182,306           100
Brick and mortar         $167,346          $169,255          92.8
Catalog                    $9,428            $7,177           3.9
Online / Internet          $2,903            $5,873           3.2

Said Kim Blanck, NPD Fashionworlds account executive: "The slowing US economy took a toll on the results of most retailers and kept a tight lid on earnings growth. Collectively, many different segments of the market posted either slim growth or no growth at all."

Across all channels of distribution, sales of women's apparel outpaced total market growth, driven by strong sales in both the large size and petite markets. On the contrary, men's apparel, the industry winner in 1999, lagged in 2000, decreasing in both dollar volume and market share. Rising in popularity, the infants' and toddlers' business experienced record-breaking growth from 1999 to 2000.

               2000 US Apparel Sales By Market Segment

                  Dollar Volume %            Change       Dollar Share
                     (in millions)          vs. '99            (%)

Total Apparel             182,306               1.5            100
Men's                      63,300              -0.3             35
Women's                    96,588               2.1             53
Boys'                       7,653              -2.2            4.2
Girls'                      7,114               1.1            3.9
Infants' & Toddlers'        7,653              13.1            4.2

Cross-Channel Shopping
Driven by retail consolidation and private label growth, cross-channel shopping has become commonplace for US households. It is not unusual for a mother to purchase her family's jeans at a department store but their underwear and socks at the mass merchants. Through 2000, mass merchants, off-price retailers and specialty stores continued to experience strong sales growth from this shift in consumer spending, with department and chain stores sales feeling the impact of this trend.

              US Apparel Sales By Channel Distribution

                      1997 Dollar       2000 Dollar           % Change
                         Volume            Volume              vs. '97
                     (in millions)     (in millions)             (%)

All Channels             $168,854          $182,306              8.0
Department Stores         $38,391           $36,515             -4.9
National Chains           $24,545           $23,478             -4.3
Mass Merchants            $28,276           $35,478             25.5
Specialty Stores          $44,004           $50,580             14.9
Off-Price Retailers       $12,871           $15,188             18.0
Factory Outlets            $5,324            $4,866             -8.6
Direct Mail / E-Tailers    $7,506            $7,489              0.0
All Other                  $7,935            $8,711              9.8