5 min read
This story originally appeared on cheddar
While Americans spend their time at home, whether they're working, going to school, or just lounging, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed many to create comfort bags in their favorite rooms. And while retail has certainly taken a hit this year and continues to struggle in many cases, there are sectors that have thrived as the pandemic progressed.
Loungewear and sports:
Working from home has become a new norm, which is why clothing stores have fewer options for workwear. A study by retail data firm Edited published this summer found that retailers sold 40 percent less workwear for women this year than in 2019, and 73 percent of items ended up being on sale at retail prices. Options for men were down 38 percent and 60 percent were offered at a discount, a sharp jump from the 35 percent of items that went on sale last year.
As retailers braced themselves for the impact of working from home by curtailing their offerings, the impact of the decline in total sales this year was not as severe.
With pants and skirts tucked into the back of the closet, consumers are looking for more comfortable options that offer professional and casual versatility, like blazers and polo shirts.
JCPenney department store, which was declared bankrupt last month after being acquired by Simon Property and Brookfield Asset Management Inc., launched Stylus, a new women's brand that advocates comfort first. The growing popularity of wearing comfortable clothing couldn't have been more perfect for the company, as the brand was already in development before the pandemic broke out.
In a statement to Cheddar, the company said in part, "We began developing the concept of our Styleisure line, exclusive to JCPenny, almost a year ago to meet those unmet needs as customer wear for their day."
Earlier this year, sports giant Lululemon hit a record high in demand for comfortable clothing, and third-quarter sales were over $ 1 billion, down from $ 916 million a year earlier.
For JCPenney, the aftermath of a good Christmas season after the launch of the new women's line could mean the emergence of similar brands. "In addition to the New & Wow brands! During the holiday season, we look forward to an exciting 2021 with even more compelling merchandise for all of our customers," said Kristen Bennett, communications manager at JCPenney, to Cheddar. In the department store's New & Wow category, the latest trend products are presented, ranging from toiletries to kitchen utensils.
Wearing cozy clothes is only half the battle for those who work from home and go to school. Creating new and comfortable work spaces has also become a necessity. For the office supplies retailer, Staples, sales in various categories including desks, chairs and whiteboards have increased since the pandemic began.
“People have created home offices out of cabinets, kitchen tables, corners of their living rooms, basements, and guest rooms. We've seen real demand for items that inspire people to feel at home in their workspaces while they are making that transition "Amy Lang, SVP for Strategy and Insight Staples, told Cheddar.
Creating your own workspace is just as important as any other form of creative expression, according to Lang.
"The energy and investment costs that people spent on their work clothes and accessories are now focused on furnishing their home office. This is where they spend all of their time so they can present themselves to their colleagues and express their personality." ""
It is similar with competitor Office Depot. Sales rose 18 percent in the third quarter. However, the chain posted a 9 percent drop in sales year over year. Earlier this year, Steve Schmidt, a former chief executive of Office Depot, said the office supply industry had been in decline for 10 to 12 years.
Still, the company seems optimistic: it recently released the results of a survey it conducted, in which 67 percent of respondents said they plan to modernize their workspaces at home to continue working remotely.
Technology and devices
Doing business from home wouldn't be complete without some tech upgrades. Best Buy's online sales jumped nearly 174 percent year-over-year to $ 3.82 billion, and overall sales for the company were $ 11.8 billion in the third quarter.
The company planned to further grow online sales by continuing to offer roadside pickup and expedited shipping during the holiday season.
Those sales weren't just because people upgraded their desk chairs or grabbed second computer monitors for work. Customers shopped for a wide range of items including kitchen appliances and laptops. However, the company noted a decline in mobile phone sales.
With gadgets likely to be high on many wish lists this holiday season, electronics retailers continue to seek to meet customer needs at home.
"Noise-canceling headphones are a great idea for the holiday season because they serve a dual purpose. They minimize the distraction of work and study – but they're also great for entertaining at home," said Lang of Staples.
While companies may consider returning to offices with successful COVID-19 vaccine delivery, interest in upgrading personal spaces at home is likely to remain for the foreseeable future.
"The home office is a form of self-expression and people are investing there like never before," noted Lang.