Pandemic throws lives – and waistlines – into flux

Pandemic throws lives - and waistlines - into flux

NEW YORK — When Allison Weiss Brady and Michael Ladin emerged from weeks of locking down during the pandemic, they needed new clothes in new sizes — for different reasons.

Brady, 49, a charity fundraiser from a Philadelphia suburb, had been pulling back on her candy buying sprees during the lockdown and stepped up the cardio workouts at her home gym out of boredom. She lost 20 pounds and went down two sizes. In contrast, Ladin, 58, of Oak Park, Illinois, gained 10 pounds this past spring after sitting around eating chips and dip.

“I’m not surprised. If I don’t work out consistently, I gain weight,” said Ladin, who works in marketing.

Many Americans like Ladin and Brady are changing clothing sizes depending on how they spent their time sheltering at home. And brands from Levi Strauss & Co. to lingerie label Cosabella are taking note. So are body measuring technology companies, which report that shoppers are changing their measurements on their online profiles.

The trend could be good for clothing companies — new sizes likely mean that customers’ wardrobes need to be updated. But retailers, already feeling the pain of decreased spending during uncertain economic times, are also facing an increase in costly returns as shoppers try to figure out their new sizes.

“Anecdotally, we’re seeing shoppers come back into stores unsure of their size,” said Marc Rosen, executive vice-president and president of Levi Strauss Americas, in a statement to The Associated Press. “For most, it’s been a long time since they’ve tried on a pair of jeans, and they may be up or down a size.”

Some companies are even adding larger sizes in response to shoppers’ gaining weight, or what has been dubbed COVID-15.

Guido Campello, co-CEO of luxury lingerie brands Cosabella and Journelle, said that his two brands have been adding more generous cuts of some of its most popular styles in bras and sleepwear in recent weeks because of interest from its 2,100 store accounts. Loyal customers at its store locations are also requesting new sizes while making more exchanges.

Size fluctuations are bearing out in data from body measuring app Perfitly LLC. It cites a 20% increase in users redoing their avatars in April and May, compared with the same period a year ago, according to the company’s co-founder and CEO Dave Sharma. That spike is similar to what it sees in January after the winter holidays, he says.

“Because it is a huge spike, we think it is because of the weight gain,” said Sharma, whose app has about 50,000 users nationwide. “They are sitting around, they don’t go to the gym, and they don’t go for jogs.”

Fit Match, a startup firm that’s rolling out 3D technology to scan customers bodies at malls, found only one-third of the hundred women it surveyed in Texas where it piloted its first program had no weight change during the lockdown, says founder and CEO Haniff Brown. Of the remainder, 15% gained more than 5 pounds, while 20% lost more than five pounds. Brown called this change “pronounced,” noting two-thirds of customers typically don’t have any weight change during such a short time period.

Narvar Inc., a software company that powers returns for more than 200 brands, says online returns have doubled from mid-March to early June, according to founder and CEO Amit Sharma. Retailers face more than $800 million in expenses from the additional returns in the second quarter, in part because of sizing issues but also because of buyers’ remorse and shipping delays.

Brady took advantage of sales and spent several thousands of dollars in recent weeks on a new wardrobe that included, T-shirts, inexpensive summer dresses, and designer sweatshirts. She also sent her new measurements to her personal shoppers at Neiman Marcus and Saks.

“I feel great. My (old) clothes are huge,” said Brady, who hadn’t modeled in years but was recently hired on by a local agency.

Still, weight fluctuations may be here to stay as surges in new cases around the country force states like California to re-close businesses like gyms and encourage shoppers to shelter at home again.

Lauren Wire a 32-year-old publicist who lives in Manhattan, says she worries that another lock down could keep her gym closed during the winter months.

She gained back 12 of the 50 pounds she lost leading up to the pandemic because she was ordering in a lot from restaurants and partaking in social distance cocktails with friends. She says she bought new shorts and swimwear when she gained the weight but now she’s starting to shed pounds again by biking outside.

Ladin went to a local Kohl’s to buy several pairs of shorts.

“This will be enough to get me through the summer,” he said, trying on his new clothes in the Kohl’s parking lot because the store’s fitting room was temporarily closed out of safety concerns. “I am not buying any more clothes until I lose weight.”

__________

Follow Anne D’Innocenzio: http://twitter.com/ADInnocenzio

Anne D’Innocenzio, The Associated Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo by The Associated Press)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

Sylvan Lake Wranglers. File Photo
Sylvan Lake Wranglers ready for shorten hockey season

The HJHL will have a 20 game season, playing four games in a cohort and then going dark for 14 days

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

Most Read