The average American woman owns 11 handbags—but not for long

Bags on bags on bags.
Bags on bags on bags.
Image: AP/Jeff Chiu
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If she were so inclined, the average American woman could use a different handbag every day of the week—and then some—without using the same bag twice.

As the Wall Street Journal reported (paywall), in 2013 the typical woman in the US owned 11 handbags, and was buying more than two new bags each year, on average. Now those shopping habits are changing.

Sales growth of luxury bags in the US peaked in 2011, according to data from market intelligence firm Euromonitor. That year, it reached a sizable 20.4%. But it has been on the decline ever since, and this year, sales growth fell to just 8.8%. The slide is expected to continue through at least 2020.

Among the brands taking a hit is handbag behemoth Coach. Its bag sales have been falling since 2011 as well—and even more dramatically. No wonder it’s looking to expand its apparel business.

This downtick may have something to do with the fact that young consumers have more debt (and less money) than previous generations. Increasingly, sales data and anecdotal evidence alike seem to suggest that when millenials do spend money, it’s on services rather than things.