World market for Apparel and Footwear

July 2021

Apparel and footwear was among the industries hardest hit by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Retail sales were damaged by temporary store closures and weakened consumer spending. The pandemic also accelerated a channel shift to e-commerce in the industry. This report provides a top-line overview of market performance and prospects, including the impact of COVID-19, and outlines key trends within the global apparel and footwear business landscape.

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Key Findings

The COVID-19 pandemic erases billions of industry revenue worldwide in 2020

The apparel and footwear industry has been among the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Global retail value sales declined by 19% in 2020, with a return to the pre-COVID-19 level of sales not expected until post-2025. The continued restrictions and growing fears of contagion in retail spaces and shopping malls among consumers are creating further challenges for retailers around the globe.

Asia Pacific continues to drive sales but risks remain

Asia Pacific continues to lead in terms of sales, at almost USD565 billion by the end of 2020. Holding a global value share of close to 40%, Asia Pacific overall accounts for well over a third of global spending on clothing and footwear. Mainland China alone accounts for a massive 60% of regional sales and ranks as the most important market globally.

Channel shifts and rise in online sales as new shopping habits stick

E-commerce and digital innovation will undoubtedly expand as consumers continue to enjoy the convenience of online shopping, and as the shift to learning, working, eating, shopping, playing and socialising moves further to the home and online. Both physical and digital retailers will need to go above and beyond to create new bonds and build loyalty with customers, who will be looking to be entertained, rewarded and valued.

Consumers invest more in casual clothing and activewear during lockdown

Sportwear and childrenswear are expected to see much faster recovery from the impact of COVID-19. This is thanks to quick recovery in Asia Pacific, and the ongoing demand from consumers, who are increasingly opting for loungewear, athleisure and casual clothing as work, exercise and socialising continue to take place in the home.

Innovation is at the heart of recovery as key players look at new business models for survival

New ways of thinking and doing will be key to building resilience, and one thing that should not be paused despite the economic crisis is innovation. New business models and corporate strategies remain focused on mitigating ongoing risks in light of successive waves of COVID-19 infections and slower than anticipated vaccination roll-out programmes. 


Key findings

Industry Snapshot

Apparel and footwear ranks second in consumer goods globally
COVID-19 pandemic continues to severely impact retail sales
Womenswear continues to lead in the majority of markets
Consumers invest in casual clothing and activewear during lockdown
Asia Pacific leads sales, with China at the helm
China predicted to recover fastest from the pandemic
Further channel shifts and rise in online sales as new shopping habits stick

Leading Companies and Brands

Apparel and footwear remains highly fragmented
Top companies quickly pivot to digital channels amid pandemic
Nike’s results prove the importance of the Chinese market
China’s quick recovery from COVID-19 supports local companies’ growth

Top Trends Shaping the Industry

COVID-19 is a catalyst for change across apparel and footwear
Examining four trends shaping the apparel and footwear industry

Top Trends Shaping the industry

Questions raised over long-term shopping behaviour
E-commerce sees constant double-digit growth across all categories
E-commerce is no longer optional for business survival
Companies will continue investing in new technology for survival
Case study: Champion uses NFTs for its 2021 spring collection
Sustainability commitments will remain important in the long-term
Brand reputation a key driving force behind sustainability efforts
Glaring disparity between consumer awareness and shopping behaviour
From sustainability to purpose: social issues surge thanks to COVID-19
Case study: Levi’s enters the resale market
Consumers prioritise comfort and versatility in clothing and footwear
Pandemic-driven lockdowns boost demand for at-home wellness
Physical and emotional wellbeing blur boundaries in fashion and beauty
The rise of “biz-leisure” as the pandemic reshapes our work, rest and play
Case study: Mango moves into activewear
Corporate focus for key players turns to mitigating longer-term risks
M&A activity accelerates as the pandemic recedes
UK online retailers buy up struggling brands to expand their reach
Case study: Nordstrom- Asos joint venture

Global Outlook

Forecast dashboard models different COVID-19 forecast scenarios
The industry will continue to suffer from the pandemic in the longer-term
Shift to e-commerce to accelerate further in the post-pandemic era

Market Snapshots

Global snapshot of womenswear
Global snapshot of menswear
Global snapshot of childrenswear
Global snapshot of footwear
Global snapshot of apparel accessories
Global snapshot of hosiery
Global snapshot of sportswear
Regional snapshot: Asia Pacific
Regional snapshot: North America
Regional snapshot: Latin America
Regional snapshot: Western Europe
Regional snapshot: Middle East and Africa
Regional snapshot: Eastern Europe
Regional snapshot: Australasia




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