Fashion Retail Needs A Revolution
While British clothing sales grew by 4.1 per cent in December 2017 many retailers reported on ‘disappointing’ figures across the past month. A very mixed bag of results saw M&S, Debenhams, Mothercare and House of Fraser reveal poor figures for the festive period, while the likes of John Lewis, Next and Boohoo and Oxfam saw sales increase.
With this mixed state of play what is a British designer or brand to make of retail in this current climate?
Pini Yakuel, CEO of Optimove, comments: “Against competition from online shopping, retailers are facing significant pressure to discount heavily before and after Christmas.
“But heavy discounting risks hurting long-term profits, as Debenhams has experienced first-hand. Shoppers drawn in by heavy discounts during the Christmas season are 19 per cent less likely to return again than those who buy at another time – and return custom is where retailers seek to make back the heavy costs of attraction and discounting.
“Discounting needs to be seen as part of a more personalised strategy to build relationships with customers, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing prices for all customers on almost all ranges.”
Lee Lucas, Principal and CEO of the Fashion Retail Academy, added his analysis:
“Fashion chiefs at household names have avoided a dressing down with resilient numbers but the biggest glass of Christmas cheer has come from online retailers boasting astonishing annual growth.
“What you’re likely seeing is the ‘Fashion First’ effect. We saw it in the aftermath of the financial crisis. It is an unwillingness to go without little gifts to ourselves that don’t cost the Earth and make us feel great – even while we put off purchases of bigger ticket items such as cars and houses.
“Fashion falls into this category and, even if the cost of living is rising and their pay isn’t going up at the same pace, fashion still benefits but online retailers’ figures show the appetite for sofa shopping will continue to force retailers to innovate to get shoppers into physical stores.
“The Super Thursday results give us the fullest picture of how our fashion retailers have fared.
“Pressure from a weak pound, that would have limited discounting because clothing imports have become more expensive, have failed to trip up shoppers despite belt tightening in other sectors amid rising inflation.
“The need for staff educated in analytics and data has never been greater with globalisation and the continued rise in home shopping, driving the need for customisation and personalisation.”
The message from industry experts has repeatedly shown that online has continued to grow over recent years while the high street has suffered. However, all is not lost for the humble store. As explained by Andrew Westbrook at RSM in his FashionCapital article ‘What Can The Retail Sector Expect in 2018,’ todays discount savvy consumers still want to experience and explore new products. Hence the need for a creative approach to retail along with the retention of knowledgeable and personable staff and accurate data analysis that can ensure responsive action.
For a new designer wanting to sell the world of retail can seem daunting however there are opportunities available if you know were to look from pop-up opportunities to designer collectives.
CEO of FashionCapital Jenny Holloway comments:
“It’s with genuine sadness to read that Colette had closed, Rue Saint Honoré will not be the same again. This was a vibrant must-go-to artisan shop that all aspiring designers radiated too. Doesn’t this closure reflect a sign of the times in fashion? New Look is tinkering on the edge…House of Fraser has financial woes. What is this telling us? It’s time for a new retail revolution! That’s why we need Stack N15! Coming soon this new retail concept will house up and coming talent in a unique, distinctly alternative, urban yet affordable store with a focus on sustainable and Made in Britain design.”
Coming soon Stack N15 – join the retail revolution!