Ecommerce helped U.S. apparel sales stay afloat in 2020. Online apparel sales accounted for 46.0% of total U.S. apparel sales in 2020 and grew faster than in previous years. 46.0% of apparel sales in 2020 is up nearly 16 percentage points from a 30.1% penetration in 2019 and up from 26.6% in 2018.
U.S. online apparel sales grew 21.8% year over year and reached $110.68 billion, Digital Commerce 360 estimates. This is nearly the direct inverse of the overall U.S. apparel category last year. Sales online and offline decreased 20.3% year over year in 2020 and offline apparel sales, mainly apparel purchases in stores, dropped nearly 40% in 2020.
These figures represent the larger shopping trends in 2020 that shifted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Many store-based apparel merchants were forced to close their stores in March 2020 for weeks or months, spurring many shoppers to go online to buy everything from food to sweatpants. Even when stores could reopen, many shoppers still opted to shop online to avoid crowded, indoor spaces. And most apparel retailers opted to close dressing rooms for months, which is a key reason shoppers go to apparel stores.
Increased online shopping meant ecommerce accounted for a much bigger share of total apparel sales, and ecommerce significantly increased its share of the total apparel market. While 21.8% year-over-year sales growth for the online apparel category is impressive and faster than the category’s 14.6% growth in 2019, apparel grew below the entire U.S. ecommerce industry’s 32.4% growth in 2020.
But, the U.S. consumer appetite for apparel is still strong. The 2021 Online Apparel Report looks at how the top online apparel retailers pivoted to meet shoppers’ needs, plus data and analysis on other apparel industry trends, including athleisure, bankruptcies, acquisitions and sizing tools, as well as sections on omnichannel tactics and social media strategies.
Who are the leading online apparel retailers?
Digital Commerce 360 ranks 242 apparel-focused retailers in its Top 1000, which are listed in the report.
This cohort includes some of the largest brands in retail—including Macy’s Inc., Nike Inc. and lululemon athletica Inc.—and the fastest-growing consumer brand manufacturers, including running shoe merchant Brooks Sports Inc. and medical scrubs merchant FIGS Inc.
Outside of apparel-focused retailers, mass merchants—including Walmart, Amazon and Target—are responsible for a large share of online apparel sales. In fact, in 2020, these three merchants collectively generated 42% of all U.S. online apparel purchases, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates.
The 2021 Online Apparel Report shows the estimates for online and total apparel sales for each of these three merchants.
The new 2021 Online Apparel Report includes:
- An overview of the online apparel industry, including total sales and growth
- Data and analysis on the fastest growers and leaders in apparel
- A breakout section on omnichannel and social media
- Trends in the apparel industry including athleisure, sustainability and sizing tools
- A full ranking of the 242 apparel retailers in the Top 1000
- 30+ charts and graphs
- View the table of contents for full details on what’s included in the report.
The 2021 Online Apparel Report can be downloaded now as a PDF for $399. Digital Commerce 360 Gold and Platinum Members receive a complimentary copy of this report as a part of their membership.