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2021: Q2 Quarterly Index
The Apparel sector was one of the hardest hit over the pandemic, and it is one of the slowest to recover – but it is undeniably recovering. In Q2, the visit gap from Q1 shrunk by almost half, with some sectors already showing growth while others are slowly bouncing back.
Analyzing dozens of brands including:
Visit Gap Narrows by Half
Apparel was one of the hardest-hit sectors during COVID. With the country opening back up, however, customers are returning to stores. Apparel visits were up by 29.1% compared to last quarter, and the overall visit gap compared to 2019 shrunk to just -6.7%. With many indoor malls still closed or partially closed during much of Q2, the full extent of the sector’s recovery may only be known over the next couple of months.
Visit Length on the Rise
People are spending longer in stores than they did in Q1 – but median visit length still lags behind 2019. As malls fully reopen, the upcoming Back to School season is critical for the Apparel sector to prove that it can still attract customers to stores in the face of growing competition online.
Rise of Off-Price and Athletic Wear
The apparel recovery is unevenly distributed, with some subsectors still seeing double-digit visit gaps while others – most notably off-price and athleisure/athletic wear – thrive. The economic uncertainty coupled with the long months spent at home are encouraging customers to look for cheap and/or comfortable clothing, and brands that cater to these trends have reached or exceeded 2019 visit numbers despite the overall sector’s still incomplete recovery.
Department Stores’ Slow Comeback
Department stores are still struggling to reach pre-pandemic visit levels, with many major department stores still exhibiting double-digits visit gaps compared Q2 2019. But visits increased significantly compared to last quarter – perhaps tied to the mall reopenings – indicating that this apparel subsector is in the midst of a significant return.
The apparel sector received a serious blow over COVID, as stores shuttered and customers stayed home. Now, shoppers are returning to department stores, and athletic wear and off-price apparel are doing particularly well. Although many malls were still closed or partially closed in Q2, the sector managed to shrink its visit gap by almost half and to keep its customers in stores for longer. The sector is slowly but surely bouncing back.
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