How brands are competing for the year’s ramped-up sleepwear sales

This year, as sleepwear and loungewear have become standard uniforms for people working from home, and traveling to reunite with families is difficult, sleepwear is seeing a big boost in sales. As a result, brands are leaning even more heavily on their sleep categories.

Desmond & Dempsey, a DTC sleepwear brand based in the U.K., is used to seeing a big spike in pajama sales around the holidays. The brand did 45% of its 2019 sales in the last six weeks the year, and that number is on-track to be higher this year. Co-founder Molly Goddard said the brand doesn’t make pajamas themed around any one holiday, like Christmas, but she has been pushing gift-giving much more this year. She’s also been reframing the marketing away from the idea of popping a set of pajamas in your suitcase and toward celebrations spent at home.

“We’re seeing a lot of people buying matching sets, so basket sizes are getting bigger than in previous years,” Goddard said. “That was spurred by the introduction of our kids’ category last year; a lot of people are buying sets for themselves and their children. We’ve also seen a lot more interest in men’s pajamas this year.”

According to Goddard, Desmond & Dempsey has experienced a 230% year-over-year increase in sales so far in 2020. 

But even brands that don’t specialize in sleepwear have been pushing the category more this holiday season. Apparel brand Draper James has made pajamas a central part of its holiday gifting this year by launching gift sets featuring pajamas, books and accessories. And sleepwear was the No. 1 selling category at Old Navy over Black Friday, particularly its Jingle Jammies, a Christmas-themed set. 

“We went after family sleep in a bigger way, with expanded choice in matching family [styles] once we knew this would be an even hotter category this year, with families staying home for the holidays,” said Kelby Smith, product and marketing communication manager for Old Navy. “One big initiative in sleep this year was our inclusive Santa print showing multiple skin tones – a proud moment for us with more opportunity to expand. We made an effort to showcase designs that appeal to a variety of people, and the print work is a culmination of many voices in our organization weighing in on what the holidays means to them.”

According to NPD, sleepwear is expected to make up 31% of holiday apparel spending this year, up from 26% last year. That data is supported by retail tech company CommerceHub’s analysis of what sold on Black Friday, as well.

“Electronics and video games were the top categories ont Black Friday this year, at around 30% of total sales, but pajamas were the next biggest category,” said Erik Morton, svp of product and strategy at CommerceHub.

The growth of sleepwear is similar to the boom that athleisure and loungewear have seen. Goddard said her brand has no interest in expanding into loungewear, saying there’s enough demand for both that she can focus her team on sleepwear without feeling like she’s missing out on any revenue.

“Holiday pajama sales have also been pulled forward a lot this year,” Goddard said. “Usually we see the Christmas spike around late November and beginning of December, but this year, we saw the spike happening much earlier, like in October.”

Morgan Lane, another sleepwear-focused brand which typically does around 35% of its sales during the holiday season, has begun offering a more expanded price range in order to accommodate the higher demand for pajamas. Typically, Morgan Lane pajamas range from around $200-$300, but newer models introduced in the last two months are priced as low as $100.

Morgan Lane designer Morgan Curtis said the increased demand for sleepwear this year is something she’s actively working to capitalize on.

“Customers that have fallen in love with one of our prints or want something from Morgan Lane, but maybe they can’t afford the pajamas or aren’t able to have access to our product now,” said Curtis. “We tried to lower some of our pajama prices by introducing more silk blends, which actually have a longer lifespan and hold up better to washing. Because of the pandemic, the consumer is starting to look at longevity and accessibility when shopping. Sleepwear is in higher demand, but at the same time, customers are paying closer attention to what they are buying.”

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