Fashion and Retail’s COVID-19 Stock Surge

Isaura M. League

Feeling better? You’re not the only one.

There’s been a collective sigh of relief in fashion’s C-suites since the devastation of the early pandemic lockdowns turned into an improbable stock rally — fed by government stimulus, e-commerce sales and hopes for the future.

While the COVID-19 pandemic roils on in many parts of the world, the U.S. and Europe appear to be emerging from the worst of it with vaccination rates going up and many people getting back out to shop again.

Just what a difference a year makes is clear in a WWD survey of fashion and retail stocks since the midpoint of 2020.

L Brands Inc., parent of Victoria’s Secret until a planned spin off this summer, won the stock rally, rising 382 percent to $72.06 over the past year.

Revolve Group Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. also posted four-fold gains, while Capri Holdings and Tapestry Inc. saw their stocks increase threefold.

Those increases say a lot about how investors were feeling last summer — with malls closed, back rent piling up, inventory going stale and no end in sight.

David Bassuk, global co-leader of the retail practice at AlixPartners, said apparel had the deepest nosedive and the fastest rebound.

But there’s more going on than just a bounce back.

Bassuk said the companies that are really performing and being rewarded by the stock market have been on the move in the pandemic and shifting to a digital mind-set, playing up the power of omnichannel selling and sharpening their ability to respond to demand.

“The way to win in the financial markets is you have to perform,” Bassuk said. “You really have to make sure that the markets see you leaning in and really taking a strong footing [on those three dimensions].”

Retailers have talked for years about hitting these points and becoming more agile or more digital or taking a more holistic approach to the store — seeing its value as a return center and marketing tool. And while some embraced the approach and were seen as innovators, others were taking more measured steps toward what is broadly seen as the future of retail.

COVID-19 turned that migration into a scramble.

“Many were forced to use the pandemic as a forcing function to do what should have been done many times over,” Bassuk said. “Now many have positioned themselves for the new world.”

But not everybody.

“There’s still a lot of retailers that are trying to catch up and figure out what happened and how to organize and what to do to go forward,” Bassuk said.

Pandemic Stock Up

The first rush of the COVID-19 lockdowns in March 2020 hit most fashion and retail stocks hard, but the sector has rallied back from the depths last summer.


One-year Change

L Brands Inc.



Revolve Group Inc.



Abercrombie & Fitch Co.



Capri Holdings



Tapestry Inc.






Macy’s Inc.



Gap Inc.



Kohl’s Corp.



G-III Apparel Group



Nordstrom Inc.



PVH Corp.



Under Armour Inc.



Coty Inc.



Levi Strauss & Co.



Target Corp.



Simon Property Group Inc.



LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

661.3 euros



57.06 euros


Estee Lauder Cos. Inc.



Source: Google Finance, Yahoo Finance


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