Editor’s note: Kristen Classi-Zummo is the director, industry analyst, apparel at NPD. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “Capturing the Moment in Apparel.”

Full disclosure: I’ve recently become an avid gamer. A pandemic purchase of a virtual reality (VR) headset resulted in my hobby (nay, obsession) with the VR game, Beat Saber. As techno music plays, colored cubes, or “beats,” barrel down on me as I slice them with my beat saber. Putting on my headset has become a ritual that transforms me from Kristen Classi-Zummo, apparel industry analyst, into a virtual reality ninja. What I particularly love about the game is that it keeps me in the moment. As these colored cubes come my way, my focus is on the present moment; I can’t worry about what’s further down the line because if I miss what’s right in front of me, the game is over.

The way consumers have been shopping this year, especially for apparel, is reflective of this same, “here and now” behavior. Faced with rising prices and tighter budgets, consumers are focused on satiating immediate needs – a mindset that will carry through the holiday season and likely into the new year. 

The back-to-school season was a prelude to the apparel consumer’s holiday shopping mindset. As prices climbed for most of the items on back-to-school supply lists, consumers focused their spending on books and backpacks. New clothing needs were lacking because, even in cold regions of the country, warmer weather allowed parents to stretch their kids’ summer wardrobes well into September (and even October). Now, as we approach the colder weather and holiday parties, our immediate needs will change. Outerwear and other cold weather categories have largely gone unreplenished over the past two years as consumers turned to layering styles. However, with a return to work, parties and other events, there will likely be a replenishment ...