Canada vs US: Women’s clothing

June 27, 2017
3 min read

When it comes to ‘retail therapy,’ it seems Canadian women are more relaxed in the process than their American counterparts. According to Mintel’s Women’s Clothing Canada report, Canadian women are more likely to say they enjoy the clothes shopping process than American women.
More than half of Canadian women under-45 dress more for comfort than style

Why might this be the case?

Perhaps due to a difference in attitude toward fashion. Canadian women may be more carefree in their approach to shopping thanks to their stronger desire for a casual, comfortable style, as they are more likely to dress for comfort over fashion than American women, particularly among younger consumers. More than half of Canadian women under-45 dress more for comfort than style, compared to just two in five American women the same age. The adoption of a more casual style may make for a more enjoyable shopping experience given that there’s less pressure to find that item that’s exact the perfect piece.

Why does this matter?

For retailers, a more light-hearted shopping trip means more time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. To this end, Canadian retailers have yet another advantage over American clothing retailers. Canadian shoppers continue to lag behind Americans when it comes to e-commerce, with clothes shopping being no exception. As Canadian women continue to show a preference towards shopping in-store rather than online, they may be more responsive to visual stimuli and enhancements to the clothes shopping experience. Investments in enhancing the in-store experience should find success, as Canadian women have a more laid back attitude when shopping for clothing, showing a greater penchant to wander and browse as opposed to making planned trips.

Retailers should also be aware that a greater leaning towards a more casual style does not equate being apathetic when it comes to style. On the contrary, Canadian women take an interest in putting their best foot forward – they just want to be comfortable while doing it. For instance, Millennial women want to look unique, but may need some help in this area as seen with a third of Millennial women reporting that they would like to dress more stylishly, but don’t know how. While offerings of beverage or food samples should work to enhance the ‘leisure’ part of shopping and keep them browsing longer, creatively showcasing visualizations of key clothing and accessory combinations should work well to get them to take action on the spot.

Carol Wong-Li is a Senior Lifestyle and Leisure Analyst at Mintel. She incorporates her background in advertising and brand tracking to deliver strategic insights on a wide range of subjects including retailing and health and wellness. Carol has been with Mintel since 2014 and holds a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Calgary, specializing in Canadian Ethnic Relations.

Carol Wong-Li
Carol Wong-Li

Carol Wong-Li is Mintel’s Director of Consumers & Culture Reports.

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