Lockdown life propels sales increases for home décor retailers

A look at the top soft goods retailers from NRF’s 2021 Top 100 Retailers list

There’s no doubt that apparel was hard hit in 2020. While department stores bore the largest dips, pure play apparel retailers weren’t spared. Gap was down 13.7 percent; American Eagle dropped 10.8 percent and L Brands (which includes apparel retailers PINK and Victoria’s Secret) dropped 6.3 percent.

“Nobody needed clothes,” says David Marcotte, senior vice president at Kantar.

What they did need, though, was furniture. Whether it was to accommodate work- and school-from-home setups or just to be more comfortable during a Netflix binge, home goods had a “huge year,” Marcotte says.

2021 Top 100 Retailers

See the full list of 2021 Top 100 Retailers.

Beyond Wayfair, which topped the list of sales increases in 2021, Williams-Sonoma Inc. had an up year, increasing by 16.3 percent.

That category is partially fueled by new uses for the home and by the red-hot real estate market. But given the reliance on Asian-sourced products, home goods and furnishings may be a major story to watch 2021, Marcotte says.

“The demand is there. The question will be, ‘What is the supply?’ There’s a lot of inventory missing. The stores are packed, but it’s amazing how many holes are there,” he says.

Apparel, however, might be set up for a solid year as more people return to the office — and might need new sizes, thanks to a pandemic weight gain.

“People are definitely starting to look at apparel again because you might need to look good,” Marcotte says.


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