Activewear Is in Demand as Quarantine Drags On, Kohl’s CEO Says
(Bloomberg) -- Being stuck at home for weeks on end can be uncomfortable. Many Americans are responding by stocking up on yoga pants and hoodies.
Kohl’s Corp. is the latest retailer to benefit from the trend, saying Tuesday that it saw a greater than 100% increase in activewear sales last quarter. That helped soften the blow from an otherwise rough stretch, as the company suspended its dividend and share repurchases to counter a sharp drop in demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
While Kohl’s stores were closed last month to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the company said it refocused on digital marketing.
Online sales jumped 60% in April and have continued to grow this month even as the chain reopens stores, Chief Executive Officer Michelle Gass said in an interview. “That’s really encouraging in terms of all the strategies that we have put in place as we sort of navigate this very fluid time.”
Nearly half of the company’s 1,159 locations have turned on the lights again. It plans to reopen a “vast majority” by mid-to-late June, Gass said.
While clothing retailers have had a rough go of late, a number of executives have cited a shift toward more casual wear, as remote work makes formal attire less relevant. Simeon Siegel, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, has cited stock-outs at Lululemon Athletica Inc. as a sign of consumers’ “normalcy-adjustment purchases.”
Gass said she expects there will be a lasting impact to the type of products customers, particularly women, will want to buy. The retail chain, a top seller of national activewear brands like Nike and Under Armour, will continue to focus on the active, athleisure and denim categories going forward, she added.
“Kohl’s at its core is a pretty casual company,” Gass said.
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