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The NPD Group reported on March 19 that the U.S. fashion industry hit a soft sale period in 2000, with a mere 1.5% increase in apparel sales over the previous year. According to the market research firm, total apparel sales reached $182 billion in 2000, compared to $180 billion in 1999. By market segment, women's apparel sales grew 2.1% over the previous year, and men's apparel sales lagged, decreasing by 0.3%. Online sales, however, while accounting for only 3.2% of total apparel sales, showed double-digit growth in 2000.

"The slowing U.S. economy took a toll on the results of most retailers and kept a tight lid on earnings growth," said Kim Blanck, NPD Fashionworlds account executive. "Collectively, many different segments of the market posted either slim growth or no growth at all."

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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