NPD Reports It's All in the Bag: Handbags Are the Most Popular Accessory Women Buy

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y.--()--May 9, 2005--When it comes to accessorizing a woman's wardrobe, it's all about the handbag. According to "Women's Fashion Accessories: It's All in the Bag", the latest report from The NPD Group, a leading sales and marketing information company, 44 percent of women age thirteen and over reported buying a handbag/purse for themselves, or for someone else as a gift. Last year, women bought an average of three handbags, for themselves or someone else.

On average, women report owning six handbags. Ownership is highly correlated with age, with younger women owning fewer and older women owning more. Four in ten women age 55 and over tell NPD they own seven or more handbags, driving their average handbag ownership to seven bags, the highest of all age segments.

"Collecting handbags has become even more important for women today, especially with the new burst of color in fashion," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group. "Don't be surprised when you hear how many women need to make room in their closet not only for their footwear fetish collection, but their handbag collection as well," said Cohen.

Most of the women surveyed use only one handbag during a typical week. Although teens, who own fewer handbags than older women, say they are more likely to change their bag during the week.

                Top Styles of Handbags Used Most Often
                           (Ranked in Order)
   Rank     Style of Handbag       Rank           Style of Handbag
    1        Shoulder Bag           5              Messenger Bag
    2        Carry by Hand          6                 Tote Bag
    3          Backpack             7             Min-Bag/Wristlet
    4            Sling              8                  Clutch
Source: Women's Fashion Accessories: It's All in the Bag

In terms of key styles, the shoulder bag reigns supreme followed by the handbag or purse. The style of handbag used the least by women was the clutch bag.

Set in Their Ways

Three in four women have a favorite handbag that they use most of the time. As women age, they tend to use one primary handbag and see it as functional rather than fashionable.

"The older a woman gets, the more stuff she will accumulate in her handbag. Many women today are not going to take the time out to switch their pocketbooks on a daily or even a weekly basis just so they can match their outfits," said Cohen.

-- Women under age 35 are more likely than those ages 35 and above to agree that a woman's handbag tells a lot about her style.

-- Over six in ten women agree that price overshadows brand name when shopping for handbags.

Upscale handbag buyers

On average, the amount spent for a handbag ranges from about $40 to $65. Women report spending $42, on average, for their most recent handbag and $54, on average, for the bag they carry most often. Upscale handbag buyers or those willing to spend $150 or more for a handbag, represent about one in ten of those women who purchased a handbag in the past year.

"Handbags have become a signature item," said Cohen. "Women are purchasing them to make a statement...they carry them for days not just one day a week like apparel. They look at handbags as an investment to their wardrobe," continued Cohen.

About the Report

Women's Fashion Accessories: It's All in the Bag is a brand-new report just released from NPD Fashionworld, a division of The NPD Group. This report provides manufacturers and retailers a snapshot of the accessories market, including consumers' purchase dynamics and usage of various accessory items over the past year. Special emphasis is placed on the leading accessory item, women's handbags.

NPD collected information for Women's Fashion Accessories: It's All in the Bag between December 10 and 17, 2004. The survey was administered to a nationally representative sample of about 4,000 females age 13+ selected from the NPD Online Panel. Each woman surveyed reported purchasing one or more accessory items for themselves or someone else in the past 12 months.

About The NPD Group, Inc.

Since 1967, The NPD Group has provided reliable and comprehensive sales and marketing information for a wide range of industries. NPD provides critical knowledge on what is selling, where, to whom and why to help our clients make more successful, fact-based business decisions. Today more than 1,300 manufacturers and retailers rely on NPD to help them better understand their customers, product categories, distribution channels and competition in order to help guide their business and positively impact sales and revenues. Information from The NPD Group is available for the following major vertical sectors: apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, cellular, consumer electronics, food and beverage, foodservice, footwear, home improvement, housewares, imaging, information technology, music, software, travel, toys and video games.

About NPD Fashionworld(R)

NPD Fashionworld, the fashion-tracking division of The NPD Group, provides sales and marketing information for manufacturers, retailers and related services in the apparel and footwear industries. NPD Fashionworld provides the most accurate market intelligence available, including what is selling, where, to whom and why. Information is delivered online in a secure, Web-based environment via interactive delivery tools that make information accessible and actionable to a wide range of users - from executives to sales and marketing to research. Today more than 100 market-leading companies in the industry rely on NPD Fashionworld for the knowledge they need to drive better, fact-based decision making.


The NPD Group, Inc.
Dora Radwick, 516-625-6190


The NPD Group, Inc.
Dora Radwick, 516-625-6190