What Are Retail Hardlines and Softlines?

Young couple shopping in an electronics store
Young couple shopping in an electronics store (Image: whitetag/iStock/Getty Images)

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.

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