When the pandemic closed workplaces, canceled parties, and kept shoppers stuck at home, apparel sales took a big hit. According to The NPD Group, apparel sales fell by 19% last year. When shoppers did buy clothes, they bought what fit their new lifestyles, comfortable at-home wear such as sweatpants and sleepwear.
Now, as the vaccine roll-out reaches around 2 million doses every day in the United States, apparel retailers are detecting another shift. Shoppers are buying dressier items once more. The time may be coming when apparel retailers have to adapt their assortment to meet a wave of "feel-good purchasing." Of course, the same factor that led to the initial shift – the pandemic – could make a rapid pivot from sweatpants to dresses tricky.
It’s time for retailers to pivot — again. That won’t come easily, though. Businesses continue to face congested U.S. ports and container shortages, backlogging merchandise, which will make stocking shelves with fresh outfits all the more complicated.