Sweatshirts, sweatpants, active bottoms, sleepwear and socks will comprise 31% of total U.S. apparel spending this holiday season, compared to 26% last year, as consumers continue to shift towards comfortable clothing, according to NPD Group, a consumer trends research firm.
If COVID-19 cases spike again, NPD predicts that online apparel sales could make up between 30% and 35% of industry sales within the next few months. The firm found that one-third of consumers buying fashion items said they are most swayed by recommendations or comments on social media.
Demographically there is potential in digital sales too, as baby boomers increased their online spending by 19% compared to last year, faster than other groups, per the company's research. NPD said keeping those customers past the holiday season will be important.
The uptick in comfortable attire likely reflects consumers' search for solace during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maria Rugolo, director and industry analyst of apparel at NPD, wrote in the firm's report. Given this anxiety, Rugolo said the firm anticipates that consumers will be more selective with their apparel gift spending this season.
In the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, apparel retailers faced hard times, but some were worse off than others. As the pandemic continues to unfold, claiming more lives and forcing millions of Americans into unemployment, nearly 30 retailers have filed for bankruptcy so far.
September turned out to be a better-than-expected month for retailers overall. Consumers with money to spare shifted their spending away from pricey sports, entertainment and travel-related activities, leaving more money for spending in other areas in the interim. However, apparel sales were down by 13.1% from the previous back-to-school season, and department stores saw a 7.9% dip in sales compared to last year, statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce show.
Though it's unclear whether another stimulus package will be passed and signed into law, the National Retail Federation predicts that not passing another bill will slow any temporary economic growth, which remains a concern for retailers. For now, the International Council of Shopping Centers predicts that sales for the 2020 holiday season will only grow by 1.9% to $862.2 billion.