June 14, 2009

How Much Do People Spend on Clothes?

From the Consumer Expenditure Survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics we can dig in and find how much the average household actually spends on clothing.

In 2007 the figures for what the average household spent on apparel were:
Apparel, men and boys = $435
Apparel, women and girls = $749
Apparel, children under 2 = $93
Footwear= $327

Added up thats $1,604 per year. The average household has 2.5 people so this comes to $641 per person on average spent on shoes and clothing.

The figure for clothing spent on children under 2 seems a bit high. Keep in mind this is the average and most households do not even have a child under the age of 2. I'm wondering if the figure includes the amount spent on diapers. I wouldn't be surprised if it did. That would account for it being that high on average.

But keep in mind this is the average amount and its skewed high with the higher spending people. Typical spending is better represented by people who have middle income level. So I'll look at the spending of people who make the middle 20% income level.

The 3rd quintile spends:
Apparel, men and boys = $356
Apparel, women and girls = $673
Apparel, children under 2 = $83
Footwear= $322

Thats $1,434 total for the middle income households. With 2.5 people per household that is $573 per person annually spent on apparel and footwear for middle income earners.


  1. Actually, I was thinking the amount for children under 2 seemed low! That would be about the amount we spent on clothes for each kid per year when they were under two, but almost all their clothes at that age were hand-me-downs from other families. Most people I know have spent MUCH more than $93 a year on kid's clothing at that age.

    Even with all the hand-me-downs, we still had to buy shoes, socks, and underwear. Shoes are $10 or $15 a pop and at that age, they outgrow them quickly. Also, even if you don't buy most of the clothes, it only takes a couple of odd items (e.g. bathing suit; belt; mittens; etc) to require shelling out some bucks.

    I also don't think that number can include diapers - at least not if you use disposable diapers like most people do. We used to track the spending on that stuff and it was always at least $400/year/kid for diapers and sometimes more. We always bought bulk, too!

    I think you are right about the amount being influenced by the fact that these are average stats and most households probably don't have a child under two. Hence, it's really hard to figure out what they really mean, but my guess is that it means that the average spending on clothes per year on 1-year-olds is much higher. For example, suppose you had ten families and among the ten families there were only 2 children under age two. Then suppose $500 was spent for clothes on each of those two children. Would the survey then report $100 for children under two? (i.e. $1000 total / 10 families total = $100 per family) But I don't really know what methodology they use.

  2. S.B.

    Hi, thanks for the input. I'm sure that the $93 figure is not what a typical family spends on a baby. That doesn't pass a sanity check.

    The expenditure survey data from the Census is on ALL households in the USA. So its the average amount spent by everyone. Theres about 120M "consumer units" in the survey and roughly speaking only around 5M children in the 0-2 age range. So roughly 4% of households have a child under 2 years old at any given time. That would mean that we're spending around $2325 ($93 / .04) per child on average. I think $2300 is a more likely figure for what people spend on "apparel" for a baby. It still seems high to me but its a lot more realistic than $93.

    You can also get the data split up by age groups. For households where the head of household is 25-34 years old they spend $206 average. Older households also spend money for baby clothing and even households where people are over 65 years old spend $23 average. I assume this is in the form of gifts.


  3. I just did a rough calculation... I spend about $3000 Australian on clothes each year! (about US $2300) I am by no means on a high income. Guess I know where my priorities lie...

  4. Thanks for the information this is exactly what I needed for my sixth grade home-ec homework, and even more. Anyways, this was very helpfull and thank you.

  5. Thanks for the info but seems alittle low. I am thinking about branching out into selling children clothing and the $93 a year is a bit discouraging.

  6. This is a good website!

  7. this website is ok but can you do more resent updates thx and have a good day to all.


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