What young people wear now is changing, and right now, these are their favorite places to buy clothes…
Nearly half of young consumers say that COVID has changed the kind of clothing they shop for, according to YPulse’s new fashion and style report. Since the start of the pandemic, quarantined young consumers have helped create a loungewear and athleisure boom, and their fashion interests have been changing. The pandemic has spurred at-home fashion trends, and Glossy reported that young shoppers now prefer “comfortable, seasonless” fashion over “runway trends.” According to Klarna, athleisure and sneaker trends shot up during quarantines, and we found that “comfortable lounging clothes” are currently the top type of clothing that young consumers are interested in buying.
But of course, where they are shopping has changed drastically, as well. YPulse’s recent deep-dive report into the future of retail found that 65% of young consumers agree: “Until there is a vaccine or cure for COVID-19, I will do most of my shopping online.” And while the majority still prefer to buy clothing in-store, the number who say they prefer buying clothes only increased from 25% in 2019 to 34% in 2020. The majority also say they won’t go out shopping for fun as much as they did before, and though about half are visiting mass merchandise stores now, only 15% say they’re visiting departments stores, and fewer say they are visiting malls.
So, when they’re not going out to shop for pleasure and their clothing choices are shifting, what are their favorite places to buy clothes now? YPulse’s fashion and style survey asked 1000 Gen Z and Millennials to tell us their favorite place to buy clothing right now. Here are their top responses:
Their Favorite Place To Buy Clothing
- Old Navy
- American Eagle
- Goodwill / Thrift stores
- Forever 21
- Fashion Nova
- TJ Maxx
- J.C. Penney
Walmart is at the top of the ranking—for the first time in the several years we’ve been asking young consumers this question—knocking Target from the top spot when comparing to 2019’s responses. When we look at the reasons why young consumers are naming Walmart as a favorite place to buy clothing, affordability is the main theme. More specifically, the word “cheap” was used quite often by respondents explaining their answer. Looking at the top 16 ranking, budget is clearly a major factor for young shoppers when considering their favorite places to shop for clothes, with discount retailers dominating much of the list.
But Walmart might also be benefitting from the fact that it’s one of the stores that young consumers are visiting in-person more often. Of course, the brand has seen a massive ecommerce boom during this time as well—but remember, young consumers are more likely to be visiting mass merchandise retailers like Walmart and Target than they are other stores.Being able to buy clothes while they buy essentials like food and household goods is potentially more appealing now than ever before. One 33-year-old female explained, “Because it’s the primary place my family shops at anyway. We like to get everything we want or need from that store.”
But Walmart is actually at the top of the ranking for both Millennials and Gen Z:
Walmart’s current popularity with both generations could also indicate that they’re actually succeeding in creating styles that appeal to young shoppers. And indeed, it’s not hard to find BuzzFeed posts devoted to the surprising looks that shoppers can find there, with headlines like “31 Stylish Things From Walmart That’ll Probably Make People Wonder ‘Where’d You Get That?’” promoting the retailer’s offerings. Walmart also carries athleisure brands like Champion, which Gen Z has been credited with reviving.
In other words, Walmart might not just be convenient and cheap, though it is of course both, but…secretly kind of cool? While “cheap” was certainly the most common refrain among respondents who named the retailer as a favorite, “great brands” and “cute” were also mentioned by several. With the pandemic making comfortable and stylish but very affordable clothing a clear priority, Walmart is having their fashion moment.