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IBM Forecast: Fall looking bright for apparel retailers
05
Sep '11
Apparel sales are expected to post year-over-year gains during the fall shopping season, with especially big increases in sales of children's apparel, according to an analytics-based forecast produced by IBM. The findings have substantial ramifications for retailers preparing for one of their most important seasons of the year.

The forecast relies on historical data and sophisticated analytics software developed by IBM to analyze both long-term trends and seasonal peaks. IBM consultants use these predictive techniques to help retailers, manufacturers and other IBM clients improve performance by addressing complex issues of supply and demand. These techniques also aid in planning product mix and new store locations. In producing the forecast, IBM applies analytics technology to economic data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The children's apparel category stands out during this three-month period. It is expected to total $2.659 billion, representing a 11.1% increase over the prior-year period. Women's apparel, men's apparel and footwear are all expected to post increases over the same period last year as well.

Category rotation
The forecast 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."

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

Haydock also noted that disposable income, as reported by the U.S. Commerce Department, continues to be healthy this year, perhaps indicating pent-up consumer demand.

IBM Corporation


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