Shoppers looking for new clothes often finding empty shelves

BOSTON — For the last year, sweatpants and slippers have been fashion staples.

Now, that’s starting to change as more people are comfortable leaving the house and are looking for something new to wear.

Shoppers are back in big numbers.

“March numbers were an absolute blowout. We haven’t seen numbers like that in about a decade and a half,” said Ken Perkins, president and founder of Retail Metrics in Swampscott. “They’re up 9.8% from February and they were up 27% year over year.”

Clothes and accessories, basically anything that can be worn, are very hot.

“Strong rebound there,” said Perkins, adding that one survey for MasterCard found apparel sales up 101%.

One shopper at Assembly Square in Somerville told Boston 25 News, “I think that people definitely want to get back to some sense of normalcy and I think that happens with appearance.”

Another added, “We’ve been in sweatpants, looking baggy and stuff, like for a whole year now, so why not just look a little nicer now?”

It’s not just a new attitude that’s sending people to the stores or online.

Perkins says people feel like they’ve got money to spend, including “a massive amount of stimulus that the government has been pumping into the economy. Consumers got $1400 checks during the month of March. And then you’ve got tax refunds that have been starting to roll in.”

All that’s given Luxe Leisure in South Boston a boost.

Owners Christine Crevier and Chris Young just doubled the space of their boutique, adding a men’s line.

“People really also like to come into the shop and have it as an experience,” said Crevier. “They haven’t been able to kind of as easily get out to some of the shops.”

This surge in demand does have a downside. First, it was toilet paper. Then ketchup. Now clothing is getting harder to come by.

“We’ve seen a large shortage in production,” said Yang. “It’s been tough to find great quality clothing at a good price point where there’s a steady flow of it consistently being available on the market.”

Boston 25 News went to stores out there. We found many empty displays as jeans, underwear, footwear, and kid’s clothing were all sold out.

Perkins says some of it can be attributed to supply chain issues. “You’ve got all kinds of ships with containers waiting to come in, so you’re experiencing delays in getting product on to the shelves, and then you’ve got a trucking shortage too.”

While it can be frustrating when desired colors or sizes aren’t available, it’s still a better problem than we had last year.

This is a true sign that optimism is back in style.

“We see a lot of people super excited when they come into the shop, to be able to have these new pieces for these events that you know they’re really eager to get out and to be able to have these fun activities,” added Crevier.

Everyone we spoke to says they believe you’ll still need the casual clothes you’ve bought over the last year.

They expect that we’re moving into a phase that will continue to be less formal and that “Athleisure” will continue to be popular.

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