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Apparel Shopping Surges as Customers Return

Apparel retailers such as American Eagle, Target, and Gap have experienced sales surges in the last few weeks as customers head back to malls and start shopping for clothing items. For the last year or more, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly slowed down in-store sales for apparel retailers, and many were forced to pivot to ensure that their potential customers could shop seamlessly online.

Now, however, it appears there is a large surge of customers buying clothing items from a variety of different apparel stores. Target, TJ Max, and Gap have increased their sales in the last few weeks, per public reporting they’ve released. American Eagle Outfitters, Urban Outfitters, and Abercrombie & Fitch have also experienced an increase in sales in the last few weeks as teens and young adults flock to the malls for the summer season.

As a result of this new surge, Gap has raised its 2021 forecasts to account for these increases in sales. Gap’s shares have gained 75% this year alone. The retailer also rose 2% in extended trading after revealing its first-quarter profits. 

The last few weeks alone have revealed a real apparel retailer boom. Most analysts point to the changing tide in the pandemic to explain why people are suddenly shopping again. Now that more people are fully vaccinated in the United States, more people will have the capability to possibly go out more and socialize with friends this summer. As a result, consumers are buying new clothes after largely not spending any money on apparel in the last year or so.

Analysts have also concluded that, while many different apparel retailers will probably continue to do good, many consumers are looking for athletic or leisure clothing. Consumers are looking for comfort and convenience. Urban Outfitters — which owns Anthropologie and Free People — revealed that demand for workout clothes and athleisure items hasn’t slowed down in their first-quarter profits.

This boom in the apparel shopping industry has many companies who struggled during the pandemic finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. After all, the United States as a whole is supposed to experience the biggest economic growth since the 1980s. As a result, many retailers have high hopes for the future.

For example, the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch stated that they believe the company’s second-quarter sales should be at, or possibly even above, what they were at in pre-pandemic levels. Many other companies have strong outlooks for their future as well. Gap has raised their 2021 forecasts, and American Eagle has stated that their surge in sales is going straight into the second quarter — this after the company revealed its quarter one sales are on track to reach $1 billion

Apparel retailers greatly suffered during the pandemic, though they do appear to be making up for this with these latest surges. As economists are looking to see businesses get back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year, it appears the apparel industry, at the very least, will reach that goal. 

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