August 31, 2011 / 8:34 PM / 6 years ago

Americans not scrimping on clothes this fall: study

<p>A man tries on a shirt while shopping at a clothing store in New York, December 14, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>

BANGALORE (Reuters) - Shoppers may not be feeling too good about the economy, but that is not stopping them from adding clothes and shoes to their wardrobes, a recent study shows.

A report by IBM, to be released later on Wednesday, says demand for apparel and accessories will stay strong this fall, as parents spend on their kids, and then on themselves.

“They are buying more clothes than they are other kinds of goods and services,” said Michael Haydock, retail analytics leader at IBM Global Business Services.

“Before the recession people shopped aggressively in all categories. This year, people are not shopping in all categories -- in consumer electronics, automobiles, appliances, they are actually staggering their purchases, but (they are) buying more clothes,” he told Reuters.

Haydock expects sales of clothes and shoes to rise 6.3 percent in August, to $19.49 billion. In September, he expects them to rise 6.6 percent.

For the three fall months of August through October, children’s apparel is expected to see an 11.1 percent rise followed by men’s at 5.5 percent and women’s at 3.1 percent.

“Adults are holding back on purchasing for themselves during their back-to-school shopping for the kids. But once the kids are in school, mom and dad will go out and spend in September and October,” Haydock said.

IBM’s report does not break out results from different stores types. Instead, it shows a general trend across specialty retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch, department stores like J.C. Penney Co Inc and discounters like Target Corp.

Specialty apparel retailers, especially those that cater to teens and young adults, are widely expected to lose sales to discounters and department stores this year, as shoppers look for bargains and deals.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index showed increased weakness in August, with the final reading on the overall index of consumer sentiment at 55.7, down from 63.7 the month before.

“People are being a lot more conservative about their purchases, but when they decide what to buy, they are buying,” Haydock said, adding that these numbers are not an indicator of the upcoming holiday season.

“There isn’t necessarily a pattern that we see that says if back-to-school is good that holiday will be good. It’s worth waiting till August results to get to that,” he said.

Several chains are set to report their August sales this week. Sales at stores open at least a year are expected to rise 4.6 percent, according to Thomson Reuters. (Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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