Levi’s says ‘everybody has a new size,’ as shoppers return to stores


Levi’s clothes are seen on a store shelf in Miami, Florida.

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Some have joked that the “Freshman 15” is now the “Quarantine 15,” as living on lockdown encourages some to snack more on bread and baked goods, and workout less. 

And the iconic denim maker Levi Strauss & Co. is seeing that might actually be the case. 

As retailers slowly reopen during the coronavirus pandemic and shoppers return to stores, “everybody has a new size,” Marc Rosen, executive vice president and president of Levi Strauss’ Americas division, said in a Wednesday phone interview. “Consumers are commenting they really appreciate fitting rooms being open.” 

Levi’s as of last week had about 35% of its stores in the U.S. back open, according to Rosen, with queues of people forming outside some. (It is limiting capacity in its shops for the time being.) 

“The consumers who come back, when they do come back, they have an intent to buy,” Rosen explained. “They know they want to buy something. And they are also buying more.” 

Unlike some retailers that have opted to keep all of their fitting rooms closed as they reopen, at least for now, Levi’s is leaving every other dressing room open for use and is cleaning each space after it is used, Rosen said. The company is also holding merchandise that is tried on and not purchased for 24 hours, and holding returned goods for 72 hours, before putting them back on the floor, he said. There are still concerns that the Covid-19 virus can linger on materials such as fabrics, which is why many companies are putting similar policies in place. 

If consumers are indeed changing sizes — either sizing up or down — that could mean good news for apparel companies coming out of this crisis. Closets will need to be replenished. 

Already, apparel retailers American Eagle Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch have said sales in reopened stores are hitting 95% and 80%, respectively, compared with normal levels. 

According to a tracking by Cowen & Co., traffic to apparel stores in the U.S. was down 80.6% during the final week of May compared with a year ago, improving from the 88.5% decline the week before. 

“Warmer weather is spanning much of the country, allowing consumers to extend their mostly homebound routines to the outdoors, and expanding their apparel needs beyond comfort and above-the-keyboard dressing,” said Maria Rugolo, an apparel analyst at The NPD Group. 

“Needs and behaviors will continue to shift with each phase of the country’s reopening and crisis recovery, but it is encouraging to see the consumer demonstrating an interest in adding to their wardrobe,” she said, referring to better-than-expected results for the industry at the start of May. 

Levi shares were recently up about 8% Wednesday afternoon. The stock is down roughly 19% year-to-date. Levi has a market cap of $6.1 billion. 



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