Clothing Tops Computers in Online Sales

BizReport passes on word that “U.S. residents bought $18.3 billion dollars worth of clothes and shoes online last year compared to $17.2 billion spent on computer hardware and software.” In fact, the category trails only travel tickets in gross online sales over the last decade., the group that released the report, also found that about 14 percent of clothing bought online is returned – about double the return rates for other types of products purchased on the Internet. Still, online clothing retailers are doing phenomenally well, despite worries that shopping was one activity that people would prefer to do in person, what with the advantages of being able to touch fabrics and try on clothes to see if they’re exactly the right fit.

The International Herald Tribune reports that Scott Silverman, executive director of, said, “If you are looking for a sign that online retailing has really gone mainstream, I don’t think you can find a better one than this.”

Indeed, that’s phenomenal. The fact that a significant percentage is returned is a feature, not a bug. The ability to easily return items they don’t like is the reason people feel confident buying clothing online in the first place.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.