The year 2020 has been a strange one to say the least. Looking back this summer (June to August), ecommerce brands had a unique opportunity to push forward in the digital space with COVID-19 accelerating ecommerce growth by 5 years.

Although some brands weren’t able to rise to the challenge, others spent the summer focused on digital engagement online versus in-store. Summer was when companies got their sea legs with their new normal and quickly pivoted to adjust to the times. In this article, we’ll be walking through key summer email trends and 2020 key data points across our various core industries (apparel, beauty, and more) from the MailCharts index.

Overall, the core industries, on average, saw an increase in both send volume and promotion rate through summer. The average promotion rate saw a more significant bump in send volume, possibly indicating that brands in the core industries were looking to generate lost business.

Core Industries

Avg. Emails/Week (By Brand) vs. LY Avg. Promo Rate vs. LY Interesting Significant Terms (vs. LY)
Apparel 5.3 +0.7% 57.9% +3.5% Re-opening
Sports & Activities 3.6 +2.0% 40.3% -.04% Matter (i.e. Black Lives Matter)
Beauty & Personal Care 4.4 +2.5% 42.1% +11.8% Nothing interesting
Home 4.3 -5.1% 66.3% -7.5% Safely
Accessories 3.4 +1.1% 55.0% +14.5% Nothing interesting
Gifts 3.3 -1.3% 53.5% -7.1% Connect (i.e. with family)
Footwear 4.1 +13.9% 60.3% +15.4% Nothing interesting

Most Active Brand Most Promotional Brand
Apparel Ashley Stewart L.L. Bean
Sports & Activities MLB Shop Fabletics
Beauty & Personal Care Aveda FragranceNet
Home Williams-Sonoma Overstock
Accessories Nature’s Jewelry
Gifts Paper Source
Footwear Steve Madden Steve Madden


While email messaging this summer might have shifted for many of these brands, cadence and promotions remained relatively flat YoY except for Home, Footwear, and Beauty & Personal Care industries.

The Home industry saw a slight drop (5.1%) in email send volume and promotional activity (7.5%) YoY. This could be because home products have a higher price point (they don’t do as well in a struggling economy) or that many home retailers have both in-person and online stores with in-person traffic suffering during the pandemic.

Conversely, the Footwear industry saw a significant increase in send volume (13.9%) and promotional activity (15.4%). Typically, the Footwear industry has a major seasonal push in the summer around back-to-school, so it’s no surprise that with school being virtual in some regions and the uncertainty of back-to-school with COVID-19 that Footwear needed to make up some ground in summer for anticipated lost sales.

Beauty & Personal Care saw a relatively flat sending cadence but did experience an 11.8% increase in promotions YoY. This could be because people were more price-sensitive during the summer and also buying less makeup in general because they were staying home more.

Interesting significant terms in subject lines focused on topical events and the state of the world which has dramatically changed since last summer.

Want to take a deeper look at the summer emails of the brands mentioned here? How about digging deeper into some of the other metrics like additional subject line trends or the types of promotions offered? With a free MailCharts account you can access emails from the Mailcharts Index as well as journeys for various ecommerce brands.

Editorial photo by Selvan B on Unsplash

Post tags   Industry recap, Uncategorized