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In 2015, online apparel sales took the number one spot in total online sales from the computer hardware sector (personal computers and tablets), which had been the undisputed online sales leader for a decade.
With the growth of online shopping and increasing online apparel sales starting to explode, it's no wonder America's bricks-and-mortar apparel retailers are closing stores across the country.
If these trends continue, and researchers expect them to, Wall Street analysts say we could see 50 retail bankruptcies in the next 12 to 24 months.
Here's how retail was shaken to its core and how I plan to work its fall from grace to my readers' advantage…
The End of an Era
According to the Centre for Retail Research, online sales in 2015 in the United States reached $347.25 billion.
ComScore, an online metrics firm that captures online sales data of everything and tracks online habits, reported that in 2015, online sales of apparel and accessories reached $51.5 billion, while online sales of personal computers, tablets, and other computer hardware equipment totaled $51.1 billion. After 10 straight years of commanding the largest sector of online sales, apparel took that throne from computers, and it looks like it will stay that way for good.
As online sales in general increase, percentage of total online sales for apparel and accessories, items traditionally purchased in standalone stores and shopping centers across America, are expected to grow at about 19% annually. That's an increasing slice of a rapidly growing pie.
Online sales in the United States totaled $399.53 billion in 2016, up 14.4% from 2015. Sales in 2017 are expected to rise 14.9% to $459.07 billion in 2017, according to the Centre for Retail Research. Looking ahead, they're slated to grow another 15.4% to in 2018 to at least $529 billion.
ComScore's research indicates that apparel shoppers started feeling it was "less risky to shop for clothes online."
One big concern was returning merchandise. "Return policies got much better a few years ago, and that has lowered the friction to people buying in the apparel category," said Andrew Lipsman, ComScore's vice president of marketing and insights.
Besides the ease of returning merchandise, online shoppers have increasingly been offered free returns, and often free shipping, depending on the dollar volume of an order or the shopper's online buying history.
The great purveyor of "free shipping" and "two-day delivery" is, of course, Amazon.
Becoming an Amazon Prime member for only $99 a year gives Amazon shoppers free two-day delivery. That's on top of the other services Prime members enjoy like free streaming of videos and music, as well as other perks.
According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, nearly one-half of U.S. households are Prime subscribers. Amazon's Prime offerings essentially force competitors to offer similar shipping deals or lose business to the undisputed king of e-commerce.
The Rise of the Machines
Another surprising trend in the online apparel sales universe is the growing number of people who buy through their…
About the Author
Shah Gilani boasts a financial pedigree unlike any other. He ran his first hedge fund in 1982 from his seat on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. When options on the Standard & Poor's 100 began trading on March 11, 1983, Shah worked in "the pit" as a market maker.
He helped develop what has become known as the Volatility Index (VIX) - to this day one of the most widely used indicators worldwide. After leaving Chicago to run the futures and options division of the British banking giant Lloyd's TSB, Shah moved up to Roosevelt & Cross Inc., an old-line New York boutique firm. There he originated and ran a packaged fixed-income trading desk, and established that company's "listed" and OTC trading desks.
Shah founded a second hedge fund in 1999, which he ran until 2003.
Shah's vast network of contacts includes the biggest players on Wall Street and in international finance. These contacts give him the real story - when others only get what the investment banks want them to see.
Today, as editor of 10X Trader, Shah presents his legion of subscribers with the chance to earn ten times their money on trade after trade.
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Shah is a frequent guest on CNBC, Forbes, and Marketwatch, and you can catch him every week on Fox Business's "Varney & Co."
He also writes our most talked-about publication, Wall Street Insights & Indictments, where he reveals how Wall Street's high-stakes game is really played.