Personal accessories began the first year of an expected multi-year recovery in 2021, as sales of bags and luggage, jewellery, watches, and writing instruments all recorded growth following record low declines in 2020 as a result of COVID-19. While prior to the pandemic consumers’ increasing affinity for the highest-priced luxury brands, as well as a penchant for self-gifting, travel, and other memorable experiences had helped lift personal accessories to strong growth over 2009-2019, with bags and luggage and jewellery being the greatest benefactors of these trends, the industry was among the worst hit in 2020 and the beginning of 2021 in most states, as lockdowns, travel restrictions, and other efforts to curtail the spread of the virus, including the expansion of remote work and e-learning, as well as additional hygiene and social distancing measures in stores, deeply depressed demand throughout much of the year.
Growing interest in more sustainable business models, including resale and rental, as well as a preference for products using recycled or otherwise more sustainably-produced materials, is one among several consumer trends that has accelerated amid the pandemic. For example, offering environmental merits, as well as the opportunity to buy or otherwise wear authentic personal accessories including bags and luggage, jewellery, watches, and even writing instruments for more affordable prices, the pandemic brought about increased interest in alternative business models as consumers not only re-assessed their spending priorities, but also had additional time to clean out their closets and browse online, multi-category resale marketplaces such as Depop, ThredUp, and Poshmark, to both purchase and sell pre-owned personal accessories items.
Personal accessories in the US is a highly fragmented market, with many large, multinational players as well as small, local brands vying for consumers’ attention and discretionary dollars. In value sales terms, the market is led by multi-brand luxury groups including LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, Tapestry Inc, Kering SA, Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, and Capri Holdings Ltd, Kering SA, respectively, all of which hold multiple iconic luxury brands operating in categories including bags and luggage, jewellery, watches, and even writing instruments in their portfolios.
As many consumers’ only available, or otherwise vastly preferred, sales channel for personal accessories products of all categories throughout much of 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19-related restrictions, there was dramatic growth in the industry’s e-commerce penetration as many consumers became increasingly comfortable shopping for and purchasing personal accessories at all price points entirely online, with many doing so for the first time. As a result, e-commerce experienced a dramatic boost in its share of total personal accessories sales in 2020.
While travel restrictions, limitations to in-store shopping, and home isolation trends significantly reduced personal accessories sales across categories in 2020, positive sales trends since local markets have begun to reopen in 2021 indicate that the industry will likely recover to pre-pandemic sales levels in both value and volume terms over the forecast period as the pandemic resides. With domestic travel and participation in local events and activities already nearing pre-pandemic levels in most states by mid-2021, 2021 and 2022 will deliver the strongest growth over the forecast period, with the market expected to recover to pre-pandemic sales levels by 2023, thanks in large part to the resumption of international travel.
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