Handbags are an essential part of most women’s lives. Eighty-five percent of women in a recent survey reported using one on a daily basis. During the pandemic though, 30% of them report using their purses less than usual. This is a logical side effect of staying at home more often than not. But considering the holiday shopping season we are in, how does this impact sales of major handbag brands?

Last year, women 18 and older wanted clothing, shoes, or accessories (including handbags) at a 29% rate. This year, that rate dropped to 24%. While this isn’t a huge drop, it goes to show that the apparel priority just isn’t what it used to be without the typical places to go, people to see, and aspects of life to live.

While handbag sales might dip this year compared to previous years, it’s important to remember that women who say brand is more important to them than price when shopping for clothing and accessories, are also the most likely to say they will spend more this holiday season than last.

Style and Brand

Shoulder bags are generally the most popular everyday-purse among women right now, with crossbody bags coming in second.

But women under 35 look wildly different than women over 35. The preference for crossbody bags is enormous for younger women.

Shoulder bags and traditional handbags (where the handles can’t actually fit over one’s shoulder) are more prevalent among women middle-age and older.

When it comes to brand, there were some clear winners in a recent CivicScience poll. Among the name brands studied, Coach topped the charts with 41% of women over 18 owning and liking their Coach bag. Despite Kate Spade being owned by Tapestry (the name behind Coach) ownership and satisfaction came in at 20% of women over 18, although intent to buy was one of the highest we saw.

Major brands that also made it into our “top 8” include Dooney & Bourke, Michael Kors, and Fossil. Despite coming in last, Louis Vuitton showed intent to own at 8%, tying with consumer intent to purchase Kate Spade.

Department stores are the most popular shopping outlet for bag purchases. Discount retailers and big-box stores almost tie for second. Big-box retailers usually don’t offer luxury or designer name brands that some women can find at department stores or discount retailers, so it is impressive to see it competing this closely.

Buying purses second-hand (whether in a store or online) is the name of the game for 9% of women — this is definitely something to pay attention to.

And income more than age seems to influence where a woman shops for a brand-name bag, so given the devastating effects of the pandemic for many Americans, it will be interesting to see where designer bags fall in the new year.