Guide to researching the specialty apparel retail industry and local market opportunities

Picture of man selling ties
Guide to Specialty Apparel Retail


The purpose of this industry guide is to point business researchers to some key resources when researching the specialty apparel retail industry and the local market. This guide lists the most highly recommended resources when researching the industry and analyzing the market. I have listed the databases and resources below, with recommendations on how to find the best information in the quickest fashion.

Chad’s research advice

A well-researched feasibility analysis will incorporate information from a majority of the tools below. Some of the databases will be easier to use than others, and researchers are bound to pick a favorite tool to use more than the rest. However, I cannot stress enough how important it is to use SimplyMap, Bizminer, and Mediamark when attempting to understand the consumer market and industry in a specific market. These three resources can be a bit difficult to use, so I have made a video for using each database specifically for this project, which you will find linked where the databases are mentioned below.

1. Find information about the larger industry and market

When you first get started, you’ll want to gather an understanding about the broader industry and market. The resources in this section provide a broad overview of the specialty apparel retail industry and market.


  • IbisWorld has quite a few reports covering multiple retail industries.
  • Rather than simply search for “retail,”  use the “Browse the Reports” option to browse all related retail reports.

First Research

  • First Research has industry analyses of “Retail Sector” and “Clothing Retail.”
  • You can also do the same search and find the same content in Hoover’s Online

Business Source Complete

  • Business Source Complete is a great place to find articles to fill in the gaps for your research.
  • To avoid being overwhelmed with search results, limit the search to Trade Publications on the left side under “Source Types.”
  • Trade publications are written specifically for people engaged in the specific industry, and are likely to contain information not covered by industry analysts


  • Statista is a great place to look for a variety of clothing or apparel retail statistics.
  • There is a great Statista Dossier on the U.S. Apparel Market.

2. Gather a deeper understanding about the consumer

After you get a good idea about the larger industry, you’ll want to research the consumers in your market. Market research reports, data, and statistics found in the resources below are an excellent place to start.


  • Passport has market research reports on the many sectors for the apparel and footwear consumer market.
  • Use the Industries Tab to find the Apparel and Footwear home page, then use the Search Tree to Choose Product Category.

Mintel Oxygen

  •  Mintel Oxygen contains market research reports that analyze consumer behavior, trends, demand, and more.
  • Mintel has quite a few reports that cover multiple product categories in the apparel retail space.
  • Also look in the Lifestyles category for relevant reports about marketing to specific group.

MRI Mediamark Reporter & Simmons Oneview

  • Note that Ohio University no longer subscribes to Mediamark Reporter.  Ohio University researchers should use Simmons Oneview instead.
  • I’ve intentionally left this video to help other readers and non-Ohio U researchers using my site.
  • Mediamark Reporter provides excellent demographic statistics on consumer who purchase apparel and apparel brands.
  • This video demonstrates how use Mediamark to find useful consumer demographics for apparel consumers.

3. Analyze your local market

After you research the consumer market for the industry, you will want to adapt that data down to the local level. The resources below can help you find information about your local market to combine with national consumer market trends.

Census QuickFacts

  • Census QuickFacts provides easy access to some of the most-used economic and social statistics.
  • The QuickFacts are an easier way to get to census information than American Factfinder.
  • You will want to use census data to compare how your local market demographics align with the more general national demographics of a consumer market (like what you find in MediaMark, Mintel, and Passport,above).

SimplyMap (now called SimplyAnalytics)

  • SimplyMap can help you understand how many people in your market area purchase particular types of clothing or shop at a particular store.
  • SimpyMap can also be used to understand the Retail Market Power of a geographic location.
  • It can also be used to find Census data, including household income, populations statistics, and more.
  • The video below  demonstrates how to find data to understand the local apparel market using SimplyMap.
  • The video below uses an older interface, but is still relevant (only minor changes).  Check out the rest of my videos for newer content.


  • Bizminer contains industry financial ratios, failure and startup rates, competitive market analysis, industry vitality rating, and more for apparel retail establishments.
  • Browse by NAICS sector code to see the full availability of reports and data.
  • The video below shows three reports that can be used to understand the specialty apparel retail industry and market..

4. Get to know your competitors

Mergent Intellect

  • Use Mergent Intellect companies and competitors by user-defined search criteria, such as size, location, industry, sales, and more.
  • Also use to find nearby companies

The video below demonstrates how to use Mergent Intellect to identify potential retail apparel competitors in your local market.

Hoover’s Online

  • You can also use Hoover’s Online to fine a list of companies and potential competitors in the local market.

5. Cite your sources

When you get ready to cite your sources, take a look at the Citing in APA article. Some business databases can be more difficult to cite than traditional resources such as books and journals. In most cases, just try to provide as much information and be as consistent as possible.

Image found via Zepfanman, Creative Commons at Flickr

Related Topics: Business Cluster, retail, Industry Guides