Bullish Retail Segments

A number of retail segments are reporting some notable bright spots this year, according to research reported by NPD Group, a market analysis firm. Fashion and big appliances were the real winners, with dollar sales up 16 to 17 percent.

Here’s a survey of the latest results:

Fashion Accessories: The entire category was up 17 percent over last year’s quarterly numbers, led by women’s fashion accessories, up 20 percent. Total dollar volume of women’s handbags rose 31 percent, with strength in handbags costing around $100.

Fashion Footwear: This category saw total sales jump 16.3 percent, led by women’s footwear, up 23.8 percent. In comparison, men’s shoes rose 7.5 percent, and kids’ shoes rose 1.7 percent. Casual shoes and walking shoes were especially bright spots.

Major Appliances: Sales in this category, led by dishwashers, refrigerators, clothes dryers, and washing machines, rose 16 percent versus the same period a year ago. NPD’s research suggests that consumers are upgrading their refrigerators and investing in high efficiency, top-load washing machines.

Housewares: Kitchen electrics are selling well, with total dollar volume sales for small appliances, such as electric grills, food processors, and coffee makers, rising a solid ten percent over sales for the same period in 2009. The NPD research suggests that consumers are more willing to buy higher priced items. Total kitchen housewares rose five percent.

Luggage: Sales of garment bags and travel kits rose 13 and six percent respectively, although total luggage sales were down 13 percent, mostly because luggage sets were off 25 percent.

The research from NPD tells a story of recovery, and for certain segments at least, consumers are buying again.