US Retail Radar: Summer trends

May 22, 2019
4 min read

Although summer doesn’t technically begin until June, the season unofficially kicks off this weekend with the Memorial Day holiday – and with it shoppers looking to make some new additions to their summer wardrobes. The change of season prompts new clothing purchases, primarily from young adults. According to Mintel research on men’s clothing, a quarter of male shoppers aged 18-34 buy new items each season and nearly one-third of female shoppers the same age do the majority of their shopping in the summer, indicating this is a prime time for retailers to engage with both new and repeat customers.

Source: ShopBop

Retailers need to determine how to win consumers’ attention, starting with understanding which trends are currently on shoppers’ radars. Here, we’ve highlighted a few of this season’s key styles and shared ideas of how retailers can encourage consumers to take a chance on shopping the looks below this summer.

Re-thinking classics

Classic prints like gingham and polka dots, and silhouettes like 60’s inspired baby doll dresses, are everywhere this season, but with a modern update. Retailers need to provide incentive to buying a new print, as many consumers already own a version of this style. Styles and silhouettes that offer a fresh spin, like a slightly cropped top, a fresh color palette or a ruffled detail, give shoppers a reason to invest in another version of a timeless classic.

What’s old is new again

Source: Footwear News

The 90’s are back and driving fashion trends, such as pool slides, chunky soled sandals, teeny sunglasses and bike shorts. Fashion trends are often cyclical and, considering Millennials who mostly came of age in the 90’s are now in a position of spending power, these styles will likely evoke some nostalgia from young adults. Since nearly one-third of Millennial online shoppers often buy more than intended while shopping for clothes, such items can spur more impulsive purchases, according to Mintel research on how online shopping for apparel is evolving for consumers.

Make a color statement

Source: Women’s Wear Daily

After the dark winter, it’s not surprising most shoppers gravitate toward color in the summer. But this season, more consumers could be looking to make a bold statement with their color choices, thanks to trends set at fashion week. Shoppers will seek bold, bright colors and accessories, either in neon hues or monochromatic looks such as suiting separates. According to Mintel research on US women’s clothing, this trend will attract young women (ages 18-34) who are more likely to use clothes to redefine their style and would likely be more comfortable making a bold statement.

Playful Accessories

Source: Who What Wear

While consumers buy accessories, only a few buy a handful in a year (54% bought 1-4 items) according to Mintel research on handbags and accessories. Most purchases are planned but eliciting self-gifting or impulsive purchases is possible. Fun, playful accessories such as heart-shaped sunglasses, fanny packs and woven handbags cater to the sense of whimsy or adventure that shoppers seek during the summer months, especially when traveling. Additionally, small, often less-expensive items like silk scarves can provide an instant upgrade to an outfit and help drive incremental sales. Shoppers need to be made aware of such upgrades and offered styling suggestions to help incorporate accessory purchases into the outfit purchase and planning process.

What it means

Clothing is a top ecommerce category, so many shoppers looking to refresh their seasonal wardrobes will make their purchases online, but not exclusively. Many still have concerns regarding buying clothes without seeing them in person, especially due to product quality or inaccuracy, and those looking to experiment with new trends or styles may be looking to retailers for guidance and/or reassurance. Retailers should consider using social media to showcase fully styled looks with shoppable links, as well as sending follow-up communication offering styling tips or suggested add-on items to maintain post-purchase conversation. This type of communication, focusing more on what to do with purchases rather than just the transaction, is especially important to younger generations.

Additionally, retailers and brands should consider ways to ease consumer hesitation and pilot try-before-you-buy or rental options, as well as seamless shopping options like reserve online, try on in-store. These options remove the guesswork and concern associated with purchase decisions, regardless of how consumers choose to shop.

Alexis DeSalva Kahler
Alexis DeSalva Kahler

Alexis is a Senior Research Analyst at Mintel. Alexis focuses on US Retail and eCommerce reports.

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