Fashion & Shopping

Shein surpasses H&M, Zara in US fast fashion sales

Table of Contents

Dive Brief:

  • Amid the pandemic-induced surge in e-commerce spending, Shein has become the largest fast-fashion retailer in the U.S., according to a June report from Earnest Research. The company now has more app downloads in the U.S. than Amazon. 

  • As of June 16, Shein comprised 28% of U.S. fast fashion sales, surpassing H&M (20%), Zara (11%), Forever 21 (10%) and Fashion Nova (8%), the report indicated. The company made up 13% of the total fast fashion industry sales at the beginning of 2021. 

  • Overall, the U.S. fast fashion market grew 15% between January 2021 and mid-June. Within that same timeframe, Shein grew by nearly 160%, per the report.

Dive Insight:

Shein’s newfound dominance in the U.S. fast fashion market points to the continuing rise of digital. Earnest Research believes Shein’s sharp growth can be attributed to the brand’s mobile-first strategy, which may have caught on with consumers in a year that accelerated the adoption of mobile and other forms of digital shopping.

Besides Shein, Zara was the only other fast-fashion brand studied to grow its market share between January and mid-June, per the report. Though Earnest Research shows consumers have been buying more fast fashion lately, some experts say a decline is on the horizon. Per an April report from UBS, fast-fashion retailers could see their revenues drop by between 10% and 30% over the next five to 10 years, as consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental and human harm caused by apparel production. Last year, some fashion brands also sought to rethink the apparel production and fashion week schedule to move toward more sustainable operations.

The rise of mobile shopping has been evident in the past year as well. During Black Friday last year, consumers downloaded mobile shopping apps nearly 2.8 million times, an 8% bump from the previous year, according to estimates from Sensor Tower Store Intelligence. Walmart, Amazon and Shop were the top three most downloaded apps during Black Friday 2020. 

While Earnest shows that Shein has taken over Amazon as the most downloaded e-commerce app now, an Apptopia report looking back at 2020 indicated that the Amazon, Walmart and Wish apps were downloaded the most by U.S. users that year. Shein’s digital success comes after the company suffered a data breach in 2018 that compromised more than 6.4 million customers’ personally identifiable information.