Jun 17, 20202 min read

Why Gen Z is leading fashion retail’s recovery.

by Fredrik Thambert

The retail sector has been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps no more so than the fashion industry. As more countries begin to reopen, brands and retailers are slowly but surely mapping out their path to recovery. New data from Klarna shows why the younger generation of shoppers will play an important role.

Lockdowns, closed stores, and uncertain times in the global economy have significantly changed consumer behavior. We’ve seen consumers have shifted most of their spending towards necessities like groceries and pharmaceuticals, as well as home and garden products and digital entertainment. For many of us, clothes and accessories have been less prioritized (sweatsuits aside) as we’ve been spending most of our time at home.

But looking at shopping patterns among different age groups, Klarna has found some interesting data that shows how younger shoppers, especially the Gen Zers (age 18-25), are spending a larger portion of their money on fashion than the older generations. This might not come as a surprise given the fact that they’re normally not responsible for household expenses, but it’s a clue for retailers as to where to focus their efforts.

We have looked at Gen Z spending in the clothing and accessories vertical in the US, Germany, and Sweden – three of Klarna’s core markets – between March and May to see how shopping patterns varied. In all three countries, shopping volumes among Gen Z in fashion have increased by more than 50 percent. This means that fashion shopping has gone up significantly since the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.

We can also see that clothing and accessories have a significantly larger share of wallet than among their older peers. The biggest difference between the countries is that Swedish Gen Z shoppers seem to spend proportionally less on fashion than in the US and Germany, but still spend almost double their share of wallet on the category compared to older shoppers in their market. Here is a breakdown of the numbers:

Fashion’s share of wallet with Klarna (May) Gen Z Gen X
US 54% 30%
Germany 62% 37%
Sweden 31% 18%

*The numbers are based on Klarna purchases made through our app or directly from merchants using our payment solutions.

During the same period, older age groups bought more home-related products like furniture and electronics.

As more countries have started to ease up on restrictions in recent weeks, stores are allowed to open again. Whether customers will return to pre-COVID levels remains to be seen. But now we are seeing people feeling the urge to meet the summer in style, while still keeping themselves safe. And this is most true among Gen Z.

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