Is America ready to try on clothes again?

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
June 10, 2020, 6:36 PM UTC

Many Americans say they will think twice before trying on that pair of jeans. 

According to data compiled by YouGov, 43 percent of Americans are somewhat or very comfortable trying on clothes at a store after the pandemic, while the same number (43%) said they are somewhat or very uncomfortable. 

It appears the country is divided along gender lines on the question of trying on clothing. Nearly half (49%) of men say they’re comfortable compared to 37 percent of women. Gen Xers are more likely (22%) to be “very comfortable” with the notion, while Baby Boomers are more likely to be very uncomfortable (20%). 

Perhaps most notable, however, is how comfortable online shoppers are compared to offline. About one in five (21%) of those who mainly or always shop offline are very comfortable with trying on new clothes in-person at the store. A little over a quarter (28%) of those who typically evenly shop for clothing both online and in-person say they’re somewhat uncomfortable with the notion of heading into the store change room.  

In some states, retail is already up and running, as well as in some parts of Canada, giving us a glimpse at what fashion retail will look like in the COVID-19 age. Some measures include keeping clothing off shelves after a customer tries them on, making appointments and only using every other change room. 

Many traditional fashion retailers, which were already facing significant challenges prior to the outbreak, were quickly pushed to the brink as clothing and accessories sales plummeted 89 percent, according to the US Census Bureau. 

However, YouGov BrandIndex data shows Purchase Intent among Americans who typically buy clothes and shoes online is trending upwards compared to those who typically shop offline or in-store. As of June 10, 5.4 percent of online shoppers said they were likely to purchase from one of the major fashion retailers, up nearly a percentage point from the anxious days after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. 

This is yet another indicator that the coronavirus is accelerating a retail digital transformation that has rewarded some brands and punished others in the fashion sector and beyond. 

Methodology: Comfort level with trying on clothes is based on a sample size of 21,568 US adults on May 7 – 8, 2020. Purchase Intent among of fashion retailers among online shoppers is based on an average daily sample of 4,304 US adults who typically shop online and 8,286 US adults who typically shop offline on a four-week moving average. 

Online and offline shopper groups are based on the question “Please indicate whether you tend to make most of your purchases online (i.e. via the internet) or offline.” Answer options were “All online,” “Mostly online,” “Evenly split,” “Mostly offline, and “all offline,” “Don’t know” and “NA - I do not purchase these types of products.” Answers were gathered between May 2019 and May 2020. 

Fashion retail sector includes Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Forever 21, Gap, H & M, Hollister, J. Crew, Old Navy, Talbots, Urban Outfitters, Victoria's Secret.

Image: Getty