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As COVID-19 ebbs, Americans care what they look like again

Beauty and apparel sales on the rise
Beauty and apparel sales on the rise 01:40

After more than a year of wearing masks and Zoom calls, many Americans who are now vaccinated against COVID-19 are ready to socialize in person. As they emerge from isolation, that means investing in their appearance, buoying sales of apparel and beauty products. 

Tania Miranda, who manages Top Line Cosmetics and Fashion in New York, said the store is bustling again after a quiet 14 months. "People are buying clothes and they're buying makeup," she told CBS News' Michael George. 

Sales of lipstick and other makeup products are on the rise, according to retail experts. The recent lifting of mask mandates in a number of states is motivating consumers to shop again. 

"We're seeing people are returning to the stores. There's an excitement, there's an enthusiasm," said Deborah Weinswig, CEO of Coresight Research, a consulting firm specializing in retail and technology.

Americans started ditching their sweatpants in favor of "going out" fashion styles, such as dresses for women and slacks for men, in March when the COVID-19 vaccine rollout was accelerating. 

Consumers eyeing dressier fashion again 01:05

Fokke de Jong, CEO of Suit Supply, a men's tailored suit company, said his business saw a quick rebound in Asia once the pandemic came under control. 

"We even saw a counter effect when things got back to normal. For most people experiencing this pandemic, it's not been the happiest time of their life," he told CBS MoneyWatch. "So the clothes they've been wearing are not something they are going to want to connect to after."

"Mind-boggling" sales

Amanda Steigman, who has been working from home for the duration of the pandemic, is preparing to return to the office by booking beauty and grooming appointments. 

"I'll be needing to buy new clothes," she said. "I'm getting my eyebrows done at European Wax down the road [and] just rejoined the gym over here."

Others are dressing up for special occasions, including weddings, engagement parties and graduations that are finally happening after being postponed for the past year.

Sal Wanderlingh said he's expanding his wardrobe and working out three days a week to lose some of the extra pounds he put on during the pandemic. 

In what is sure to be welcome news for retailers, experts think demand for new clothing styles, accessories and other beauty products will continue to grow as the coronavirus recedes and life returns to normal. Coresight's Weinswig said sales of clothing and accessories skyrocketed 711% in April compared to the year-ago period. 

"These are just numbers that are mind-boggling, and I have to say I've never seen them in my retail career," she said.

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