Americans Are Finally Shopping Like They Have Somewhere to Go


U.S. shoppers are buying up luggage, designer clothes and teeth whiteners, signaling that they’re ready to leave lockdowns behind as the vaccine rollout progresses.

America’s biggest retailers are reporting strong sales of products that have suffered in the pandemic age of face-coverings and Zoom calls. While Covid-19 hasn’t gone away, many people across the U.S. are starting to think again about nights out and family vacations.

“After a year of reduced activity, consumers are ready to get out, reconnect with family and friends,” Macy’s Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gennette said on a conference call with analysts Tuesday. “Our customers are ready to spend.”

They’re also preparing to travel. Macy’s said luggage was one of its strongest categories last quarter, which is welcome news for struggling tourist centers around the U.S. that have been bereft of travelers, both domestic and international, since early 2020.

Dresses are another dormant category that’s starting to revive. Macy’s said sales spiked for mother-of-the-bride dresses and prom outfits. With return-to-office efforts ramping up, the company’s Bloomingdale’s stores saw signs of improvement in both dresses and tailored men’s clothing like suits and blazers.

Walmart Inc. said it’s having trouble keeping adult bikes and some consumer electronics in stock. Teeth whitening products are also in high demand with masks coming off, which bodes well for other cosmetic goods for the face, such as lipstick and foundation.

“We are seeing high demand in anything related to travel, and getting back to work,” Walmart Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs said in an interview Tuesday.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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