Why You Should Give Athletic Wear This Holiday Season, Even to Couch Potatoes

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Here's a holiday shopping tip: Buy your loved ones athletic wear, even if they're not athletes. Because Americans may hate exercising, but they love dressing for it.

Why go to the gym when you can look like you’re going to the gym?

That seems to be the attitude of most Americans, who are buying and wearing lots of athletic wear, even though they have no intention of doing anything athletic.

How do we know this? Because the cotton industry has researched it. After all, cotton manufacturers have a big financial interest in learning what we like to wear. A survey by the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor reveals these intriguing facts …

  • Only 13 percent of respondents said they wore their athletic apparel only for exercise, while 80 percent reported wearing it around the house.
  • Women were more likely to wear athletic apparel while running errands (61 percent), whereas men were more likely to wear it out to lunch or a movie (22 percent) or to work (15 percent).
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of young consumers (aged 13 to 24) said they wore athletic apparel to school or class.

You might think athletic wear – everything from sweatpants to sports bras to running socks – is so popular because it’s cheaper than regular ol’ clothes. You’d be wrong.

“They are willing to pay full price for its functionality,” Cotton Incorporated reports. “Athletic apparel was significantly less likely to be offered ‘on sale’ than non-athletic clothing (46 percent vs. 54 percent).”

Yet we still snap it up. Athletic  wear accounted for “13 percent of total U.S. apparel offerings at retail in 2009,” says Cotton Incorporated. “The U.S. athletic apparel market grew an estimated 8.5 percent from 2003 to 2008, from $13 billion to $14.1 billion, and is projected to grow another 8.5 percent by 2014, to $15.3 billion.”

So why do we buy so much of the stuff? Nearly half of all customers says it’s “comfortable” and “soft.” So if you’re looking for a fail-safe clothing gift this holiday season, maybe athletic wear is the way to go – even for family and friends who would rather run errands than run.

Stacy Johnson

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