DETROIT — In the early days of the pandemic when most of the country was in quarantine, local bra shops saw a spike in the purchase of fun and flirty lingerie.
Over the last few months, that spike has turned into an increase in maternity purchases.
"We're starting to sell maternity and nursing wear more than we've ever sold before," said Lee Padgett, 51, of Detroit, co-owner of Busted Bra Shop, also in Detroit. "The lingerie went up and now the baby showers are going up. There's been a lot of joy walking through the door."
From 2020 to 2021, Busted Bra Shop saw a 164% increase in sales of lingerie, a 244% increase for garter belts and a 61% increase for maternity bras.
Comfort bras are another trend the shop saw, and the industry is seeing it across the country. Revenue from intimates, like bras, sports bras, panties, camisoles, full and half slips and shapewear — things you might wear to work — decreased 10% from 2019, according to Kristen Classi-Zummo of NPD Group.
"As we were staying home, women were turning to more comfortable options to wear all day and even at night," Classi-Zummo added. "Now, as the U.S. begins to open, we are seeing growth in some of the categories that declined in 2020, which includes non-sport bras. Comfort and versatility will continue to be of importance to (a woman), especially as she steps out again. Bras, which may have traditionally been viewed as uncomfortable and restrictive, are now becoming synonymous with comfort and support."
Over the last year, metro Detroit specialty sales at such stores as Victoria's Secret, GAP and Ann Taylor have seen an increase of 31.3%, according to the Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures sales through all payment forms.
In the early days of the pandemic, bra stores like Busted Bra Shop and another, Sunny J's, became essential as their customers' needs grew. Stores said customers needing new bras included those with cancer, those needing a size change or those who were looking to just change up their styles.
Padgett said the bra industry has adapted during the pandemic by producing supportive, casual curvy and extended sizes of bralettes, which are bras that can be worn as shirts.
Rachelle Fanelli, owner of Sunny J’s, which has locations in Plymouth and Howell, said people were purchasing matching bra and panty sets more than usual last year and more customers were requesting cute print bras and comfort bras.