Getting my kids to wear a coat when the weather turns colder has proven to be a nearly impossible feat. They’ll lob every excuse as to why they can’t put one on: it’s too hot in the classroom, I don’t have access to my locker, I don’t have anywhere to put it . . . well, you get the picture.
Kids and adults alike have taken to the layering trend, which has really made an impact on outerwear sales. Among U.S. adults, only half reported that they wear an actual winter coat during the colder months, while the other half said they prefer to wear multiple layers, according to the NPD Omnibus Survey — a behavior which explains the growing surge in sweatshirt sales over the past few years.
As the outerwear category struggled to return to 2019 sales levels, even during the apparel industry’s comeback last year, the category has finally reached the point of replacement in its sale cycle. My theory is that outerwear sales struggled throughout the pandemic because consumers were able to make do with the coats already in their closets. Fast forward to today, and wardrobe needs — stemming from replacement, replenishment, and a return to social gatherings — will once again prompt consumers to spend on outerwear, which will yield better sales results for the fourth quarter.
NPD is forecasting outerwear dollar sales to grow 6% in the fourth quarter, versus last year, thanks to higher price points. Unit sales will increase by 2%, according to the Future of Apparel forecast. In fact, outerwear is a top-of-mind purchase for consumers this holiday season, with 30% of adults saying they need to update their outerwear for the upcoming winter season, rounding out the top three categories, along with jeans (36%), and socks (33%).
Outerwear is also getting a nice publicity boost from social media, which has found ways to reinvigorate parts of this category. We have also seen sales lifts for puffer jackets and trenches that followed the latest fashion trends, proving that this apparel category has opportunity, on both the sporty- and traditional-fashion sides of the spectrum. Since it’s a higher-priced product, outerwear is also a beneficial investment area of focus for brands and retailers, and we expect it will be an area of growth in 2023.
Landing among the 50% of people who wear their outerwear as soon as there’s a chill in the air, I look forward to replacing my family’s outerwear this winter season — despite the battle I’ll have to face getting them to put it on (insert facepalm emoji).