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IBM Forecast: Women’s apparel sales to rise 9.2% in third quarter; footwear and children’s clothing also to post gains


Armonk, N.Y. – In-store sales of women’s clothing are expected to see a 9.2% increase in the third quarter of 2012 versus the year-ago period, according to a just-released IBM analytics-based forecast of U.S. retail sales data. The report predicts a 6.2% increase in sales of children’s clothing and a 5.2% increase in footwear. Men’s clothing, however, is forecast to lag, dropping 6.7%.

“This forecast reflects a growing trend: consumers are ready to shop,” said Jill Puleri, global retail leader for IBM Global Business Services. “Consumers will be stocking up on items that they need, but still earmarking products for later in the season. For retailers to effectively tap into consumer desires, they need to deliver timely, hyper-personalized promotions that will compel consumers to instinctively act on a deal.”

In addition to the 9.2% increase in women’s apparel,

The IBM forecast for third quarter 2012, produced by IBM Global Business Services, includes a new IBM analysis of social media chatter. Called the IBM Social Sentiment Index, it indicates that consumers’ desire for sales promotions skyrocketed in the second quarter as economic concerns mounted. Using analytics software, IBM studied approximately 236,804 mentions and posts on Twitter, message boards, blogs and news sources from two time periods – mid-April to mid-July 2011 and 2012.

The report reveals a more than 50% increase in online discussion and sharing of promotions – such as coupons and sales, suggesting that consumers have been trained to sniff out sales and share promotions with their online communities. It noted that women have developed a much stronger desire for promotions this year compared with last year, which creates incentive for retailers to offer additional promotions and discounts this season.

Despite the increased interest about online promotions, IBM’s analysis revealed that consumers were not seeing the value from coupons and offers and the incentives were not substantial enough and are seeking even better promotions and deeper discounts.

On a positive note, the conversation about product assortment and range was increasingly upbeat – with positive sentiment increasing by 54%.

In other findings, consumers seem to be worried about ill-fitting clothes; especially in plus sizes. The conversations tended to focus on complaints – as the shift in the ratio of positive to negative comments fell by 37% year over year.

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