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Australia: online shoppers prefer women's clothing from local sites

By Simone Preuss


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Australians spent 2.4 billion AUD online in 2015 for men's and women's clothing. As reserach firm Roy Morgan Research found out, while those shopping for womenswear seem to prefer local vendors, for menswear, international sites dominate. Interestingly, there is a gender divide when it comes to local versus global preferences.

“There is clear difference between womenswear and menswear when it comes to how much of our expenditure stays local. Two thirds of Australians spend on women's clothes online (nearly all of which came from women, of course) was through local sites. But for menswear, 61 percent of our expenditure went overseas — and both men and women shoppers favour international sites for men's clothes,” summed up Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research.

More precisely, 1.579 billion AUD were spent on women's clothes and 835 million AUD on men's clothes. Of the total 2.414 billion AUD spent, 1.366 billion (56 percent) went to Australian-based sites (online-only retailers as well as the webshops of traditional brick-and-mortar stores) while only 1.048 billion AUD (44 percent) went to international online retailers.

Australian women prefer local online retailers

The high margin in local spending is due to expenses in womenswear that remained mainly local: while two thirds (1 billion AUD) were spent through Australian online stores, only one third (550 million AUD) was spent through international online stores. Even the preference for choosing international sites when buying men's clothes could not offset this trend as total expenditure for men's wear is only around half of that of women's clothes.

And there seems to be a real gender bias when it comes to local versus global for Australian online shoppers: Of those 1.579 billion AUD spent on women's clothes online in 2015, 89 percent of that (1.4 billion) came from women, while the remaining 179 million AUD were spent by men buying women's clothes. Interestingly, they favored international sites here too, while women banked on local online retailers - 961 million AUD was spent on womenswear via local retailers and 439 million AUD on international ones.

In menswear, it is a whole different story: 835 million AUD was spent in 2015 online on men's clothes, of which over 60 percent (504 million AUD) went to international retailers. Of those, men spent 393 million AUD and women 111 million AUD; the latter favouring international sites here too (if just about; they spent 103 million AUD on menswear through local retailers).

What does this mean for the Australian online retail market for men's and women's clothing? For Levine, the implications are quite clear: “Together, all this suggests that Australian men's clothing retailers need to catch up to the women's. It may be that the pricing, quality, range and brands available on local menswear sites are simply not up to scratch in the new international marketplace, especially among fashion-conscious, tech-savvy and cashed-up consumers.”

Image: Roy Morgan Research
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