It wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about post-holiday returns and what apparel retailers could do to tackle them. Today, the problem of holiday returns seems like small potatoes compared with the impact of COVID-19. Apparel retailers are facing a mounting pile of overstock, unlike anything they’ve seen before.

Apparel has been disproportionately affected during the pandemic. Consumers are using their limited funds to purchase items they deemed essential. What’s more, in the wake of stay-at-home orders by governments across the globe, millions are working and socializing from home, with little need for additional clothing or accessories.

With brick-and-mortar shops closed worldwide, most businesses are being forced to rely solely on online orders. Yet with the shift in consumer priorities, demand for clothing has fallen considerably. U.S. apparel sales in March dropped by more than half. In response, many within the industry are looking seriously at new ways of attracting orders, and mitigating the impact of this unexpected change in circumstances.

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