With summertime just around the corner and a chance for more outdoor activities, I am feeling the need for a wardrobe update. And while I love my current cozy, stretchy and forgiving apparel options, some future occasions will warrant categories that may have been put on the backburner. I get the feeling I may not be alone in feeling this way. 

Apparel lost nearly two million (1.8MM)* buyers last year over the age of 18. That means, nearly two million adults did not buy one article of clothing for the entire year! Not only does this call for a refresh, but it also poses the question: will items that have been hanging in our closest, for over a year now, even fit?     

When asked if their clothing size has changed, compared to a year ago, nearly 40% of females stated they were a new size, compared to 30% of males. Breaking down the 40% of females, nearly 15% state they are a size smaller, while a quarter (25%) are now a size larger.** While several reasons could be behind these changes, there are two prevalent behavioral shifts that have come to light . . . snacking and exercising.

Snack food consumption accelerated in the last year, driven in part by our changing realities during the pandemic. More stress and time at home shifted overall moods, which can impact snack food cravings, and in turn, our waistlines.

NPD’s Food & Beverage Industry Analyst Darren Seifer shared that according to NPD’s Future
of Snacking
report, the mental stress of pandemic living permeated snack consumption in the U.S. The average American consumed 15 more snack foods while bored in 2020 vs. 2019, and six more while feeling sad or depressed. On the flip side, fewer snack consumption occasions occurred while consumers felt “normal.”

Change in clothing size could also be related to a change in one’s fitness routine. Some consumers used their extra time to find workouts that kept them fit and socially distanced. From at-home fitness to hiking and walking, increased physical activity is another driver of sizing change.

Dirk Sorenson, NPD’s sports industry analyst, notes total home fitness sales grew 96%*** from May through December 2020 vs. the same period in 2019, as gyms were closed and consumers purchased equipment to stay fit during quarantine. Where it was possible, consumers also took to hiking and walking trails for socially distant outdoor fitness opportunities.

With two out of five adult females, and three out of ten adult males, no longer fitting into last year’s size, coupled with the potential for more occasions to attend (i.e. return to work, social, or travel), NPD’s Future
of Apparel
anticipates a sparked interest into more wardrobe refreshes. This will especially hold true as making do will no longer work if it no longer fits.  

*The NPD Group/Checkout
**The NPD Group / NPD Trend Tracker survey done in conjunction with NPD
partner CivicScience, March 2021
***The NPD
Group/U.S. Weekly Retail Tracking Service