The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research company said sales for February 2013 through January 2014 reached $1.7 billion — a 9 percent increase over the prior year.
Marshal Cohen, chief analyst for NPD, which tracks the category in the discount, chain and department store channels, noted gains were due to the development of slippers as outdoor wear, coupled with better inventory management by vendors. “We’re not only seeing kids wearing slippers as streetwear but now women are wearing them,” said Cohen. “In addition, the industry has made the slipper business more efficient. [It’s] done a better job of using logistics to keep inventory filled.”
While discount stores and mass merchants reported a 5 percent decrease in sales for the period, amounting to $347.3 million, national chains saw a 1 percent uptick, to $169.8 million. Department stores posted a 7 percent gain, totaling $164.9 million. In other channels, slippers sales jumped 18 percent, to $1 billion.
“Department stores are growing [in slippers] better than any other channel because they’re [now] constantly in stock with product,” said Cohen. “The last to get on the trend are the mass merchants. They didn’t invest in [the category]. They didn’t see it coming. They didn’t shift the styles within the brands they have, or didn’t shift to brands more casual in nature.”
On a gender basis, sales during the period rose 6 percent for men’s product, to $649.8 million; and 14 percent for women’s, to $903.3 million. The children’s category remained flat, with sales of $131.1 million.
Looking ahead, Cohen said he is optimistic about the sector’s growth potential. “When you see an accessory category growing at 9 percent, you have to take notice,” he said. “This will allow for more aggressive price points for a broader audience to get in on [the trend]. I can see it now becoming more mass marketed and universal. It doesn’t look so strange today to see a guy going to the movies in [his] slippers.”