Changing Airline Rules Prompting Consumers to Purchase Smaller Bags, Toiletry Cases

The NPD Group, Inc. recently released a look at the luggage market in the U.S. The results show there are some bright spots in the sales of smaller and more conveniently sized pieces. 

For the 12 months ending in March 2010, the total luggage business was down 13% in dollar volume sales.  Among the sub-​categories of luggage tracked by NPD, sales of suitcases and luggage sets struggled, while garment bags and other bags not technically categorized as luggage (such as duffle bags and laptop bags) grew.

"The economy has taken its toll on the luggage business, but there are some things in these results that can be taken as a sign of the times," noted Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc., "With an eye toward changing airline rules, consumers are looking for ways to make their travel more convenient so smaller bags and toiletry cases have become more important to them these days."

Where are consumers shopping for their luggage?  They are buying at both high-​end and specialty retailers as well as factory outlets and off-​price retailers.

"Consumers are not only seeking new styles but new places to shop for better value," said Cohen, "Gone are the days when features like pop-​up handles, wheels, piggy-​backs and convertibles were only available in the higher end stores, now stores that cater to convenience and better value are thriving, too."

NPD's Consumer Tracking Service for accessories also takes a look at how important ‘brand name' is to luggage buyers.

Over the course of the past 3 years, the percentage of dollars spent on luggage that is either ‘non-​branded' or luggage where the brand was ‘unknown' has dwindled.  This trend is most prevalent among female buyers.

"What is dynamic in the luggage business are the number of brands emerging right in front of our eyes," said Cohen, "Companies are buying up names to put on luggage at lower price points that in turn create a greater perceived value to consumers. And consumers like the recognition factor, now couple that with the fact that ‘no-​name' brands are losing ground to the retail partnerships created with brands, that are in turn helping to boost the ‘fashion-​factor' of luggage, and we can then understand these shifts in the market."

[Source:  Consumer Tracking Service, The NPD Group. 26 May 2010.  Web. 4 Jun. 2010.]