Canada’s Fashion Industry has struggled as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, with sales of apparel down -13% or -$3.6B to $23.3B in the 12 months ending September 2020, according to The NPD Group. The majority of the loss can be traced back to the non-athletic apparel market.

Shifts in apparel purchase behavior have occurred across both categories and wearer segments since the start of the pandemic, pointing to important changes in consumer buying phases. Widespread lockdowns and school/workplace closures have driven many consumers to reconsider their spending priorities. With many consumers now working from home, categories that are associated with traditional office attire such as dress shirts, woven shirts, sports coats, blazers and dresses were the fastest declining categories over the last 12 months. On the other hand, categories that are associated with comfort such as sweatshirts and sweatpants increased sales by +6% over the 12 months ending September 2020.

 “I believe the industry is trying to navigate who the post pandemic consumer is,” says Tamara Szames, Industry Analyst for Canada Fashion for the NPD Group. “Like every other aspect of our lives, the fashion retail industry is also changing. Retailers will need to look beyond the assortment mix and start to define their business based on consumer connection and values.”