There’s no question that online shopping hasn’t managed to penetrate every retail segment in America. For example, it’s still mostly easier to buy a car or a house in person. However, other categories that might have once been considered insulated from the spread of eCommerce are now its biggest sellers.
According to data from comScore obtained by Re/code, clothing was the top-selling product category for three out of the four quarters in 2015. The next closest vertical — computer hardware — only managed to top online apparel sales in Q3 and only by $1.5 billion at that. In Q1, Q2 and Q4, clothes accounted for $12.4 billion, $11.8 billion and $17.2 billion in sales, respectively.
That’s bad news for computer hardware merchants but great news for Amazon and the hundreds of private-label brands leveraging online and offline sales with pop-up shops and flash sales to keep overhead down. Amazon, in particular, might have expected this kind of upward trend for online apparel sales all along. In July 2015, a Cowen report estimated that Amazon would surpass Macy’s as the top seller of apparel in the U.S. by 2017 at the latest. This takes into account all omnichannel sales made by Macy’s, which should speak to the incredible volume of clothes that Amazon is actually shipping out — and will continue to in even greater numbers.
Amazon appears to be tackling the challenge piece by piece rather than flooding the zone with whatever it has. CNNMoney explained that February saw the retailer forgo the traditional route of fanfare and press releases and instead simply release items from seven new in-house fashion brands onto its website. Customers likely didn’t even notice the difference, which is just fine by Amazon — as long as the reason they overlook them is because they’re too busy buying something else.