While more and more of us are getting the vaccine, it is affecting what we’re buying online… and in interesting ways!
Leaving a world of sweatpants and home workout equipment, we’re beginning to buy things to prepare us for, and accompany us in, the world outside.
As retail sales shot 9.8% in March, “Their balance sheet is in excellent, outstanding shape,” according to Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and they’re “ready to go and they’re starting to spend money.”
What are we buying now?
Our money is being spent in many directions, many the same as before, yet others have diverted in other, more interesting directions.
For example, the largest winners in March were sporting goods brands and retailers, increasing by 23.5% from February. Also remaining popular are clothes sales, rising 18.3%, as we update our wardrobes and possibly order the next sizes up.
Other items of interest that have seen a boost in sales lately include champagne, skirts, and shaving kits. We’ve started to make plans for events, reunions, and meet-ups… and dating! So while we’re still buying comfort gear, we’re increasingly seeing spikes in gear that prepares us for a night out, or a get-together with family.
This is a strong indicator of change in not only consumer habits but the general direction of society as it emerges out of the other side.
So let’s move towards the deeper end of each of these emerging ecommerce goods, and take a closer look.
Skirts & dresses
One of the high-flying items straight from the rack has been skirts. In fact, skirts were selling at a higher rate than any other category when looked at on a weekly basis. On a monthly level, skirts’ sell-out rate was 21% in March versus 11% for the prior March, despite the discount levels being nearly the same.
Beyond skirts, we also hit the racks for other spring-infused clothing, such as dresses and jumpsuits.
“You’ve got young women that are now able to put a prom date on the calendar and they’re coming to our stores and websites,” said Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette, who added “you definitely have wedding dates that you’re starting to see pop up onto people’s calendars, and you’re seeing them over at the bride category. And then, just people that are going out more, and so you see that in casual day dresses.”
Good ol’ pair of jeans
One of fashion’s more formidable constants has been denim. And those brands with a jean-focus have been noticing that sales have been going in the right direction.
Levi Strauss has already reported strong earnings this month, and expects to see stronger-than-anticipated consumer demand for its jeans for the rest of the year.
American Eagle Outfitters is another brand noticing this trend. “We’re still in the pandemic,” said its CEO Jay Schottenstein, “but when it goes away, we could be looking at the ‘Roaring 20s,” while adding that it expected its revenue to hit $1 billion this year, with denim driving much of these sales.
“Denim is a perfect way for consumers to move away from items such as jogging pants into something that feels more put together, yet still comfortable,” said retail analyst Jay Sole.
Sweet and seductive champagne
The bubbly is perhaps the more symbolic item that is becoming more popular in recent weeks. But it’s less of a celebratory mood; more of recognition and relief.
Seeing friends and family again. Organizing parties and get-togethers. There are more reasons to reach for the bottle in the company of loved ones.
Champagne sales popped by 103% for the month ending April 3 when compared to the same time last year. The LVMH said that brands and retailers in North America and Europe have been stocking up on champagne. “Inventories were pretty low at the end of last year,” said its chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony, “so there was inventory replenishment.
“But on top of that, depletions happen to be extremely strong in the first half of the year.”
The increase in the sweet stuff has also been recognized by delivery services, such as Drizly, who recently declared that 8.4% of their alcohol orders for March and April (so far) were for champagne, compared to its 7.4% share in March and April, 2019, and its 5.6% share in March and April of 2020…. So the bubbles are rising.
These shoes are made for… walking outside
Many of us have had the same shoes on for more than a year now, despite not getting very far. Or you’ve simply put off buying a fresh pair of sneakers for a year because… well, you’ve not needed them.
We’re getting out more, and doing more activities outdoors, and this is driving new demand.
Sneakers are part of the goods that have been overlooked for many months now, and this is changing. Footwear spending fell by 17% for the year ending in February 2021.
Then in March sales started to resurge. And not only sneakers but heels, too. In fact, in March, the average percent of heels that were sold out across ecommerce websites hit 22%, that’s a huge jump from the 8% witnessed in March of last year.
“While nearly all types of footwear improved compared to 2020 as expected,” said industry analyst Beth Goldstein, “it was the more casual, comfort, and athletic/athleisure styles that performed best and grew vs. 2019, whereas dressier fashion styles continued to struggle.”
Shave away for a cleaner day
I’ve been a fan of the rugged and wild quarantine beard. It captured the vibe of the last year to some extent. Less of a lazy look; more of a survival mode.
But some bearded folk are beginning to shave it off – while others are getting strong hints from their partners that enough is enough.
Among the highest-selling items from the month ending March 28, high-end shaving products have made the cut. Roughly 3% of shaving products had sold out in the 4-week period.
Among the most popular products such as shaving creams and beard oils were L’Oreal brands, who use Salesforce Commerce Cloud to power their ecommerce sites, as well as The Art of Shaving, another skincare and shaving brand that powers its digital sales by Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
With the reopening of the outside world beyond our front doors, men have started to think about their social appearance, and how they want to present themselves.
To the pool… with swimwear
The mass vaccine program has coincided with the warming of the weather. Despite many spring breakers causing a rise in swimwear sales, it’s now the general population that is dreaming of weekend pool days and coastal getaways.
One particular winner is the DTC brand Summersalt, whose April sales are up more than 850% compared to last year!
“April was truly the depths of retail sales across the board for most major retailers in 2020,” said its CEO Lori Coulter, “but what we’re seeing in 2021 is not only a return to our original growth plan for the month – but that accelerated pace of growth that is attributable just to the consumer’s mood.
“She’s ready to celebrate and so that celebration is different for each of us – but it might be that trip to the beach. It might be just ‘We’re ready for a weekend getaway’… What we’re seeing is categories that essentially encourage her to be out and about… are really resonating.”
So there you have it. On top of the goods we’re continuing to buy online, we’re also seeing surges in goods once taken for granted yet have suffered from the pandemic – like swimwear, shavers, shoes, and champagne. Goods that appear to be getting us out into the physical world.