Rakuten Intelligence predicts consumers are eager to spend big on fall and winter apparel with category sales expected to increase 30% in the fourth quarter over a year ago and well above pre-pandemic periods.
November is expected to be the strongest month for e-commerce and apparel sales this year, Rakuten reports. Kristen Gall, president of Rakuten Rewards, said outside of apparel, shopping categories will be hard to predict in the final part of the year which includes the holiday shopping season. She said there was a lot of out-of-season inventory that moved over the summer including snow apparel or gear for winter activities, due to off-cycle sales. For inventory that didn’t sell last year, companies will incentivize customers to buy those products this year.
Gall also said 2020 holiday shopping patterns will persist. She expects to see consumers relying on e-commerce and delivery to order and get gifts. Likewise, the 2020 shopping challenges will be around for a while, she said.
“During COVID, we’re seeing persistent inventory issues, shipping delays, increased shipping costs and hiring shortages. Consumers will need to shop early to ensure they get the products they want on time, and retailers will need to use new tactics to incentivize earlier shopping,” Gall said.
A separate report from NPD Group is also bullish for U.S. apparel retailers. The market group said the U.S. apparel industry is on track to exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2021. NPD also said apparel retailers rang up $13.3 million more sales in the first eight months of 2021 compared with the same period of 2019.
The NPD survey found 61% of consumers said they need a wardrobe revamp because their clothes are old and worn, they changed size, and they are going out more – in that order. Corresponding with these needs, the top-growing categories in apparel are a mixed bag of sleepwear, intimates, socks, underwear and other basic necessities.
NPD said sleepwear sales intensified throughout the pandemic, as consumers opted for comfy clothing for lounging and working from home, making it the fastest-growing apparel category so far this year. The survey found 70% of women reported wearing pajamas and slippers for activities besides sleep.
With vaccination rates improving, more consumers got out of their homes, pushing demand for new clothes in different sizes. Shapewear for women was one of the best-selling categories in 2021, according to NPD. The marketing group also found sales of men’s underwear bottoms and tops rose 21% this year. Men purchasing tee shirts as stand-alone items is growing at a faster rate, up 47% compared to 13% who said they are worn in a more traditional sense, under a shirt. Sock sales were also up this year, with men and women increasing sales by 27% over the 2019 results.
“Consumers are going back to basics, as they return to life in ways we once knew,” said Kristen Classi-Zummo, director of apparel market insights at NPD. “From bras and shapewear to socks and pajamas, consumers are prioritizing adaptable apparel that provides benefits for everyday occasions — fitting the work-from-home lifestyle, while also making us feel comfortable, confident, and polished as we head out the door again. Brands that are nimble and innovate according to the consumer’s updated wardrobe will lead growth in the apparel industry, as we move ahead.”