The Great Gatsby-fication of Retail

Retailers in the softlines space are hedging bets this year that consumers want all of the glitz and glamour as they head out of their homes.
Elizabeth Lafontaine
Chief Retail Analyst, Retail Leader
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If you head out shopping for apparel this holiday season, you’re bound to find miles of sequins, feathers and velvet on the racks at what feels like almost every retailer. Opulence appears to be the theme of holiday dressing this year, which feels both exciting and also a little odd. 

According to The NPD Group, dress sales are forecasted to increase 7% in units in Q4 compared to 2021, partially due to the cancellation of events last year as the Omicron variant surged. Dressing up feels like a thing of the past as most of us continue to turn to athleisure on a daily basis, but are consumers finally entering the roaring twenties of this century?

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera

It does feel like a different holiday season this year, and one that is most reminiscent of the pre-pandemic period. Consumers are excited to gather with friends and family, attend holiday parties and galas, and get back to shopping for gifts in stores. Much like “revenge travel” surged this past summer, “revenge holiday” celebrations are on the horizon, and many consumers want to get dressed up to make up for lost time, or once again finally have an occasion to wear those clothes. 

Retailers in the softlines space are hedging bets this year that consumers want all of the glitz and glamor as they head out of their homes. Making a statement with clothing is common amongst shoppers, and this turn toward sequins and feathers signals a consumer desire for a good time. 

However, all of this feels slightly strange against a backdrop of low consumer sentiment and high economic uncertainty. These polarizing forces of wanting to celebrate — but also wondering if anything is worth celebrating — is ever present in consumers’ minds this holiday season. Shoppers this year may want to dress in feathers, but they’re also highly aware that they’re spending more on their new outfits and may not be able to live as extravagantly as they wanted to. The racks in-store represent much more than the sparkle of the holiday period and showcase the real tension that lies within consumers today.