U.S. Fur Retail Sales Still Edging Higher
Mink sales and men’s furs surge
FUR RETAIL SALES in the US have finally edged past the record highs of the 1980s, with men’s furs and mink sales showing particularly strong growth, according to the latest study commissioned by theﾠFur Information Council of Americaﾠ(FICA).
The independent survey of fur retailers found that sales of fur and fur-trimmed apparel and accessories in 2004 reached $1.81 billion, up 1.1% from the year before.
Though overall growth was small, it was still encouraging, said FICA in a press release, occurring as it did in light of unseasonably warm winters across the US, and price increases averaging 8.1% on fur and fur-trimmed garments and accessories. Continued growth in fur accessories contributed significantly to overall sales.
Again this year, fur played a major role in fashion with increased usage by designers leading to even stronger editorial support, said FICA. “More than ever this year’s fur fashion reflected the trends in ready-to-wear as seen on the runways of New York, Paris and Milan,” said executive director Keith Kaplan.
“Innovative new techniques allowed for bold color statements, unique treatments and embellishments that allowed designers to express unparalleled fashion creativity. Fur was incorporated into more designer collections in more depth than ever before, with a breadth of silhouettes and styles that offered something for everyone.”
Sales of men’s fur jumped 65.5% from the previous year, representing 7.9% of total sales, or $143 million. As overall consumer demand for fur increases across both genders, designers continue to create high fur fashion for men to broaden distribution.
Also showing strong gains were sales of mink, including sheared, which accounted for no less than 71% of total sales in women’s and men’s lines. This was impressive not only in relative terms – the previous year mink had accounted for 61% – but also in money terms, representing an increase in sales of $187 million.
A further breakdown of the survey’s figures by veteran fur reporterSandy Parkerﾠfound that stores reported an increase in regular mink’s share from 36.3% to 42.5%, while the sheared portion rose from 22.6% to 28.4%. Shearling, meanwhile, saw its share drop from 11.1% to 7.5%.
Sandy Parker also reported on two new questions posed to retailers concerning the importance of labels. As to the impact of designer labels on sales, 30.8% felt they had no impact, 33.3% thought it was small, 23.1% moderate and 12.8% believed it was “significant.” As to labels promoted by producer organizations (such asﾠAmerican LegendandﾠNorth American Fur Auctions), 30.9% felt they had no impact on sales, 39.5% thought there was a small impact, 10.3% moderate and 15.4% significant.
The independent survey of fur retailers has been conducted annually bySouthwick Associatesﾠsince 1991.
“In order to provide consistent, comparable data from year to year, the survey panel includes only independent fur retailers and leased fur salons at department stores,” explained president Rob Southwick.
“Our research does not reflect sales in designer boutiques, specialty retailers and chains, nor does it include sales results from general department store areas.
“Given the continued expansion of fur distribution these results most likely significantly under-estimate the true picture.”