Americans have never had a problem spending money on clothing. If you need a pair of jeans, you go buy them. If you need new shirts or a new jacket, there are plenty of stores that carry them. Still, it will be interesting to see just how much coronavirus has impacted our shopping habits. Have your clothing needs change in the last 12 months?
As of July 2020, sales data showed that the average American adult spent just over $160 per month on clothing and services. That works out to nearly $2000 per person. Folks, that is a lot of money for clothing and services.
The question is whether or not the average American needs that much clothing. Let’s face it, a good pair of jeans from a reputable brand should last at least a year. You might not get but one season out of a t-shirt, but dress and casual shirts should last a year or two as well. So what are we spending so much money on?
It could be that some of 2020’s new clothing purchases were directly related to the suddenly new trend of working at home. Office workers whose closets were filled with business formal and business casual clothing no longer had any need to ‘get dressed’ for work. At least some of them probably found themselves shopping for less formal, more comfortable clothing appropriate for hanging around the house.
The work-at-home wardrobe aside, American adults were still spending a lot of money on new clothing well before the pandemic. They were also spending on expensive labels. Are those expensive labels still necessary now? Does it really matter if you wear a pair of Levi jeans as opposed to something from Jordache or Tommy Bahama?
Rethinking Our Financial Priorities
Things like global pandemics have a way of forcing us to rethink priorities. What was important before the pandemic might not be so important anymore. For example, keeping up with the runway scene is now passé to a whole lot of people. Paying attention to what models are wearing and trying to emulate them seems less important when we are all just trying to avoid getting sick.
Another thing that may be going out of style is the habit of turning over one’s wardrobe three or four times a year. All of those clothes we were sending to the thrift store are perfectly fine. It looks like Americans could be holding on to their clothing longer than they used to. It just makes no sense to completely turn things over simply for the joy of buying new clothing. That may not be good for the thrift store’s inventory, but it is good for the consumer’s bottom line.
What It Means to Retail
As our clothing needs have changed, retailers changed with it. Consider The Stockist, a Salt Lake City unisex boutique selling a number of popular and hard-to-find brands. They have managed to remain in operation throughout the coronavirus crisis. But they have also been forced to adapt.
One of the things they started doing to keep pace with the current environment is offer private shopping. Customers wanting to shop the boutique without worrying about other guests can reserve an exclusive 30-minute experience before the store opens or after it closes. It is a great idea.
Only time will tell just how much our clothing needs have changed as a result of coronavirus. But as the data comes in, it is probably going to show changing habits across the board. Whether or not that’s good depends on your perspective.