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Looking Ahead: What Will Happen, And What Jewelry Will Sell, When People Get Dressed Again? |  December 23, 2020 (0 comments)


New York, NY—Not surprisingly, 2020 has been a terrible year for apparel retailers. As consumers hunkered down at home, there was little need for new clothes. But Moody’s analytics is already predicting a huge surge in apparel sales next year, as (hopefully) the vaccines developed against COVID-19 become widespread and people have a reason to get dressed again in something other than sweatpants. Image: A Polo Ralph Lauren ad shows how popular diamond studs and medium-size hoop earrings are.

But a Retail Dive report says the path back is still going to have challenges. While the apparel industry’s profits are expected to soar by as much as 70% to 90% in 2021 after plunging 50% to 60% this year, some consumer shopping changes are going to be permanent. These include a sharp increase in digital shopping, which is likely to remain. That also drives price transparency and the need for retailers to continue cost cuts and omnichannel services like curbside pickup. 

But on a positive note, retailers rediscovered the laws of supply and demand during the pandemic. Inventory scarcity—whether intentionally canceled orders or supply-chain disruption—gives retailers more power over pricing. Fewer price promotions equals better profits, and this might be the silver lining that finally lets retailers break consumers of their expectations of perpetual promotions. 

Retail Dive also says consumers will continue their focus on sustainable and ethical purchases, and the same less-is-more attitude that can help retailers regain their profit margins is likely to apply to consumer closets, where they purchase fewer but better quality items instead of a constant stream of disposable clothing. (This bodes very well for fine jewelry, too.)

Finally, something else that’s likely to continue is consumer demand for more casual, comfortable clothing. That trend was in place long before the pandemic. Even notoriously buttoned-up Goldman Sachs relaxed its dress code in 2019. 

So what will consumers want to wear when they eventually do return to the office? First off, there’s a good chance some won’t return at all. The lure of giving up expensive office real estate is not lost on companies that have found that remote work is still successful, while consumers that have grown used to comfort at home are likely to want to stay that way, insisting on comfort in all their clothes. Not sloppy, but not stiff suits, either. 

Jewelry for the new wardrobe. These shifts will have an enduring impact on the kind of jewelry consumers want to buy. Jewelry sales have been surprisingly strong through the pandemic, owing both to a desire to connect and express emotion with loved ones, and because vacation and entertainment dollars have been redirected to jewelry purchases this year.

Related: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Here’s How To Make Sure It Continues

Diamond stud earrings especially are blowing out the door, say jewelers. They’re a perfect example of what’s likely to sell in today’s disjointed times: classic and enduring (hitting that demand for sustainability and lasting quality), important enough to make a statement with dress clothes but low-key enough to wear with even the most casual WFH clothes. Hoop earrings are another Zoom-friendly classic, especially mid-sized ones with some heft, but any size should be a good bet. Also watch for a resurgence of chains, especially collar-length ones that show up on video calls and don’t look out of place with a T-shirt.

Actress Vanessa Kirby in Harper's Bazaar magazine, wearing Bvlgari Serpenti earrings. Medium-size earrings with some heft are good choices for Zoom calls, but all sizes of hoops are a good merchandising bet.

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