Long-Term Impact of COVID-19 on Apparel Industry – Thematic Research

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The global apparel market sales were valued at $1,663 billion in 2020 in post COVID-19 period. The market is projected (post-COVID-19) to grow at a CAGR of more than 1% during the forecast period. Retail stores and suppliers have faced significant challenges amid COVID-19. Order cancellations and a limited workforce have heightened issues related to cash flow and logistics throughout their supply chain. Also, the travel restrictions adopted by almost all countries across the globe led to a massive fall in sector sales for duty-free and luxury markets.

The COVID-19-induced lockdowns, store closures, travel bans, supply disruptions, and fear of contracting the virus during shopping trips have had a profound impact on consumer buying behavior – many lost their appetite for non-essential items, and the same is being reflected in the drop in growth forecasts over the next three years. However, the online channel is set to compensate for some of the lost sales in other channels as customers now are increasingly preferring online purchases amid virus fears. The market is expected to recover at a faster pace in 2021 with a growth rate expected to reach 17.6% on 2020 as normalcy slowly returns driven by vaccine rollouts, recovering economies, and re-openings of offices & educational institutions, among other factors. Retailers are adopting new strategies for better digitization of stores and digital channel expansion.

Overview of global apparel Industry

Overview of global apparel Industry

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What are the market dynamics in apparel industry in COVID-19?

The trends that emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic can be classified into three categories such as industry trends, technology trends and consumer trends.

Industry trends: Across the board, the e-commerce channel has emerged as the winner during the CVOID-19 pandemic. It helped boost profits and was the only channel that generated substantial revenue for many retailers. COVID-19 has shifted the understanding of being an omni-channel retailer; it is not just ‘move to online or perish’, rather retailers must look at how one channel can be interlinked with the others to make all work together with ease. Omni-channel and multi-channel have been buzzwords in the retail industry for some time, where traditional retailers were told to ‘be present in all channels that the consumer exists’ and build separate operations for each unit. The importance of physical spaces is demonstrated by leading online retailers such as Amazon, which is setting up contactless, AI and technology-driven convenience

Technology trends: Automation and tracking, digital transformation, are few of the technology trends that drove the apparel industry during COVID-19. Using automation technology for improving business processes has always been on retailers’ radar. Many have trialed and tested automation technology in-store and for supply chains. Robotics has also been prominent in the retail industry for quite some time. These technologies were being leveraged by retailers right from picking and packing products in warehouses and fulfilment centers, to making automated deliveries using autonomous vehicles and drones, and the health crisis has accelerated adoption.

Consumer trends: Flexible working conditions, working from home, adapted channels of entertainment and continued restrictions on movement have changed the landscape of people’s everyday life and heavily impacted the future of retail. Discussions about climate change, sustainability, environment preservation, labor laws and employee mistreatment have been ongoing among those who were interested. The popularity of organic and sustainable products will continue to grow – there has been a sudden spike in the number of retailers offering sustainable products to appeal to millennials and Gen Z.

Online apparel revenue share by country (%), 2020

Online apparel revenue share by country (%), 2020

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Which are few of the retailers that are making their mark in apparel industry during COVID-19 pandemic?

Amazon, Walmart, H&M, Nike, Shein, Uniqlo, Primark, Zara, C&A, GAP, Marks & Spencer, AllBirds, Ted Baker, ASOS, F&F, French Connection, and NuOrder are few of the retailers that are making their mark in apparel industry during COVID-19.

Apparel Industry, by retailers

Apparel Industry, by retailers

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Market report scope

Global sales (Year – 2020) $1,663 billion
CAGR (post-COVID) >1%
Forecast period 2021-2023
Key retailers Amazon, Walmart, H&M, Nike, Shein, Uniqlo, Primark, Zara, C&A, GAP, Marks & Spencer, AllBirds, Ted Baker, ASOS, F&F, French Connection, and NuOrder


GlobalData provides insight into how COVID-19 will affect the global apparel industry in the long-term. The report provides an overview of the challenges that have emerged as a result of COVID-19, strategic responses undertaken by retailers, and the key winners and losers. It also covers the key industry, technology and consumer trends within the COVID-19 theme and outlines mergers and acquisitions associated with the theme.

Reasons to Buy

  • This report identifies the important themes early, enabling companies to make the right investments ahead of the competition, and secure that all-important competitive advantage.
  • Understand how COVID-19 will impact apparel industry dynamics in the long-term.
  • Identify the key winners and losers in the global apparel industry in relation to the COVID-19 theme.
  • Better understand the key industry, technology and consumer trends that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to affect all stakeholders in the apparel industry.

Marks & Spencer
Ted Baker
French Connection

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Executive summary


Thematic briefing


Industry analysis

Value chain


Sector scorecard


Further reading

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