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NPD's AccuPanelSM shows more loyal customers buying apparel from upscale retailers

Jul '06
Americans' appetite for luxury and the corresponding impact on the upscale retail market is capturing plenty of attention these days, with several upscale retailers reporting record sales.

Now new information from NPD's AccuPanelSM reveals that increasing loyalty among upscale retailers' core customer base is driving the sales gains.

An AccuPanel analysis of over 50 upscale retailers, including leading department and specialty stores, reveals loyal upscale consumers who purchase more than 25 percent of their apparel at those retailers are growing in number.

This growing pool of “loyalists” is offsetting some shrinkage in the pool of occasional upscale shoppers. The bottom line is the overall sales uptick in the upscale market is continuing even as the total number of shoppers declines.

The greatest increases in upscale loyalists were seen among consumers with household incomes over $80,000. The 25 – 34 and 55+ age brackets drew more new loyalists than other brackets.

Not only is the upscale loyalist base growing, but these consumers also account for the lion's share of sales. In 2005, about one third of upscale retail customers qualified as loyalists, and these consumers accounted for two thirds of all sales for the stores, NPD reported.

Loyalists are more than twice as likely to shop in upscale stores and spend on average more than 50 percent more per shopping occasion.

Loyalists spend an average of $95 pershopping occasion, versus $61 on average spent by non-loyalists. They also look to upscale retailers for staples such as dress pants, skirts, dresses and sweaters, while other consumers view them as a source for dressy or special occasion apparel.

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