What Are Retail Hardlines and Softlines?

by Neil Kokemuller; Updated September 26, 2017
Couple doing some shopping in an electrical appliance shop

In retail, softlines include products sold in apparel, shoe and accessory categories. This term is based on the soft, flexible nature of the materials in the products. Most other products fall into hardline categories. Hardline products have a sturdier, less flexible structure in most cases.

Category Examples

Fashion and apparel, shoes, scarves, gloves, blankets, linens and towels are prominent examples of softline products. Electronics, appliances and computers are major hardline product categories. Furniture, sports equipment and mobile devices are also hard goods. Large discount or department stores sell hard and soft lines. Other retailers specializes in hardline or softline categories.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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