Smaller Luggage and Functional Accessories Grow As Consumers Look to Travel Light, Reports NPD

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Functional and travel-focused products have been bright spots in the accessories industry over the past few years. According to The NPD Group, 2019 revealed an increased consumer emphasis on lightening their load as U.S. dollar sales of carry-on luggage grew 3% and sales of larger sized suitcases declined nearly as much.

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“Consumers are spending on travel and experience, but related products need to address needs in a way that makes them worthy of the additional spend,” said Beth Goldstein, accessories and footwear industry analyst, The NPD Group.

Functional and travel-focused products have been bright spots in the accessories industry over the past few years. According to The NPD Group, 2019 revealed an increased consumer emphasis on lightening their load as U.S. dollar sales of carry-on luggage grew 3% and sales of larger sized suitcases declined nearly as much.

The winning silhouettes across luggage, bags, and small personal accessories are those that provide hands-free functionality, and are travel-focused. Everyday backpacks, fanny packs, luggage sets, sack packs, and credit card cases are the top growth categories.

“Consumers are spending on travel and experience, but related products need to address needs in a way that makes them worthy of the additional spend,” said Beth Goldstein, accessories and footwear industry analyst, The NPD Group. “The experiences consumers seek out can vary in type and proportion, and the same goes for the accessories they look for to support their lifestyle.”

While dollar sales of suitcases and luggage sets are up 11% since 2016, overall sales were flat in 2019. Luggage isn’t something consumers need to replace every year. NPD’s partner, Civic Science, found that the average purchase frequency of suitcases was every 8.5 years, with 43% of consumers buying every 10 years or more.    

“Travel planning, including searching for the best deals, has gotten easier, and travel has become a key marketing message across retail categories,” added Goldstein. “The accessories that make it easier for consumers to enjoy their experiences – whether looking to get out and about unrestricted by the gear we carry with us on a daily basis, taking a short trip or micro-cation – will be the products that get their attention, and the sale.”

Source: The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service, adjusted for 53rd week in Jan ‘18

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