According to a report published by the retail point-of-sale analysts NPD Group, sales in the U.S. footwear market declined 1% year-on-year to US$65 billion in the 12 months ending February 2017, driven by in-store losses. Fashion accessories sales are reported to have dropped 7% to US$51 billion in the period, both online and in-store. The report says that not only American consumers are spending less, they are also purchasing fewer items. The declines are said to have occurred at a time when segments of the Millennial generation increased their spending on footwear, fashion accessories, and apparel.

“Consumers tend to build their wardrobes through accessories and footwear, giving their outfit a fresh look, so when sales of either of these industries slow or decline, it signals a decline in fashion as a priority”, said Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst, The NPD Group.

As activewear is part of the apparel category, the sport leisure segment is said to have been “the recent bright spot in footwear”. However, the fashion segment, which represents over 40% of annual footwear dollar sales, was down 6% in the period. Growth has been reported in the fashion accessories industry in categories such as luggage and backpacks, but the US$7.3 billion handbag category has struggled, losing over US$1 billion in sales between March 2016 and February 2017.

“The active influences that drove apparel did not impact the total accessories and footwear businesses in the same way. While fashion athletic and retro sneakers worked well, consumers continued to be presented with the same non-athletic inspired fashion footwear and bags,” said Cohen. “The overall scope of today’s fashion innovation needs to reach beyond one audience or one set of consumer demands, but also be prepared to move with new influences as they take shape”, he added.