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Retail Industry Updates

‘Retail is Reflecting the Consumer’s Need for Normalcy in a Sea of Change’

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Marshal Cohen: “Even if the shopping experience is different, consumers still want the ‘real-life’ experience of picking out a gift, seeing the color of shoes up close, feeling clothing fabric or testing out a skincare solution.”

With the reopening of the economy and retail, U.S. consumers are expanding their spending considerations and increasingly showing their interest in products with a more personal focus, according to a report from The NPD Group.

That said, consumer spending also continues to reflect the importance of enhancing the homebound lifestyle they’ve had to adopt during the pandemic, the Port Washington, N.Y.-based market researcher learned.

Week-over-week dollar gains that began early in the pandemic for categories like small appliances and toys began to expand into more discretionary categories like apparel and beauty in April and May, which pulled even more of the consumer’s spending in the first half of June, NPD found.

“Right now, retail is reflecting the consumer’s need for normalcy in a sea of change,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor of retail. “Purchases are becoming less about making our extended time at home more pleasant, and more about finding ways to enjoy ‘getting out’ and once again expressing yourself as an individual in public.”

In May, more than two-thirds of consumers said they would be comfortable with shopping in a store once stay-at-home requests related to the pandemic were relaxed, and nearly one in 10 said going shopping in a store was the first thing they planned to do, according to NPD research. While sales of apparel, footwear, beauty, and fashion accessories are still down compared to last year, year-over-year losses have been softening since mid-April. The consumer’s ability to go back into stores is a contributing factor, as in-store sales declines improved across most industries in May, NPD stated.

Conventional needs and seasonality still play a role in consumer purchases, even in a peculiar retail landscape. Kids’ apparel, underwear, sleepwear and shorts all achieved year-over-year dollar growth in May, according to NPD research, and swimwear built momentum with week-over-week gains in early June. Seasonal impact is also evident in categories like men’s fragrance and fashion watches, where there were week-over-week gains in advance of Father’s Day.

“Even if the shopping experience is different, consumers still want the ‘real-life’ experience of picking out a gift, seeing the color of shoes up close, feeling clothing fabric or testing out a skincare solution,” Cohen noted.

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