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Consumers Shifting E-commerce Spending Toward Apparel and Footwear During Coronavirus Outbreak

Klarna, a leading global payments and shopping provider, today released new data that indicate consumers in the US are shifting their share of e-commerce spending toward apparel, footwear and accessories as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. The company, which is used by 7 million shoppers and which has 4,000 retail partners in the US, analyzed all the transactions made through its retail partners as well as through the Klarna app to identify what product categories Gen Zers, millennials and Gen Xers are shopping for most often using Klarna's flexible payment options.

"We've found that US consumers are really focusing their e-commerce shopping on clothing, shoes and accessories as they weather this difficult period," said Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski. "For retailers and brands, the data may indicate that shoppers are choosing to buy comfortable items to work from home in as well as workout wear that will get them through the next several weeks of exercising in their living rooms. Consumers are also taking advantage of payment options that give them the flexibility and control to buy the things they need and that will help them get through `stay-at-home' periods."

To identify how consumer behavior is changing in the US due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Klarna looked at purchases made by users through its retail partners and through the Klarna app, which enables consumers to shop from any online store. The company analyzed purchases by shoppers in the Gen Z (ages 18-23), millennial (ages 24-39) and Gen X (ages 40-55) demographics over the weeks of March 22-28 and March 15-21 as well as a base period of February 1-March 7, 2020. Klarna broke out purchases into seven major categories and then analyzed how each category's share of all Klarna purchases has shifted over time in each age group. Over the next several weeks, the company will continue to analyze consumer spending data to identify how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting e-commerce and consumer shopping behavior.


  • Gen Z, millennial and Gen X consumers who use Klarna have increased their share of e-commerce spending on apparel, footwear and accessories as well as home and garden items, suggesting that they are focusing on personal comfort and creating home environments that will allow them to weather the next several weeks mostly indoors.
  • Week over week in the week ended March 28, 2020, the apparel, footwear and accessories category's share of all Klarna-enabled purchases increased by:
  • 18% among Gen Zers. Shoppers in this age group grew their share of apparel, footwear and accessories spending from 44% in the week ended March 21 to 52% in the week ended March 28.
  • 13% among millennials. These shoppers increased their share of spending on apparel, footwear and accessories from 32% in the week ended March 21 to 36% in the week ended March 28.
  • 4% among Gen Xers. This category accounted for 26% of the volume of Gen Xers' purchases in the week ended March 21, with that share growing to 27% in the week ended March 28.
  • The home and garden category's share of all Klarna-enabled purchases also grew across all three age groups. The category's volume share increased slightly among Gen Zers and millennials and by 9% among Gen Xers week over week in the week ended March 28.
  • Sales volumes in three other major categories-leisure, sport and hobby; marketplace; and intangible products (which includes event tickets and travel services)-fell week over week from March 22-28 among all three demographic groups.
  • Gen Xers increased their share of spending on entertainment slightly week over week, while Gen Zers' and millennials' share of spending on the category was roughly flat.
  • Gen Xers were also the only demographic group among the three to increase their share of spending on electronics week over week, with category volumes up 11% in the week ended March 28 among the group.


Klarna analyzed purchase volumes for items bought through Klarna's onboarded merchant partners as well as through the Klarna app, which allows consumers to shop any online store, for the weeks of March 22-28 and March 15-21 and for the five-week period covering February 1-March 7, 2020. The data were distributed as share of total, and did not account for any increases or decreases of volume within any of the age groups analyzed-Gen Z (born 1997-2002), millennial (born 1996-1981) and Gen X (born 1965-1980). The data indicate only the distribution of purchase volumes among the following categories for each age group:

  • Apparel, footwear and accessories: adult and kids clothing and shoes, underwear, jewelry and watches, sunglasses, bags, and wallets
  • Leisure, sport and hobby: sports and outdoor gear, concept stores, hobby articles, prints and photos, costumes, and party supplies
  • Home and garden: furniture, tools and home improvement, pet supplies, kitchenware, plants and flowers, and cleaning and sanitary products 
  • Entertainment: books and magazines, music and movies, video games, sex toys, and erotic clothing and accessories
  • Marketplace: items purchased from the likes of Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com and eBay.com 
  • Electronics: diversified electronics, electronic equipment and related accessories, household electronics (including white goods and appliances), office machines and related accessories (excluding computers), and car electronics
  • Intangible items: travel services and event tickets