Urgent reform needed to avoid further losses in clothing sales

Business Editor Gary McDonald

02 November 2021 01:00

A DRAMATIC shift in consumer spending during the pandemic has left street clothing stores across Europe with a black hole numbering in the tens, according to a Retail Economics study commissioned by law firm Eversheds Sutherland. billions of pounds.

Its report ‘The Future of the European Clothing Industry’ found that the pandemic has accelerated by three years, the shift of UK retailing to a ‘tipping point’ of online sales – where online sales. line exceed store sales.

UK retailers will be the first in some of Europe’s largest retail markets (ahead of Germany, France and the Netherlands) to make the majority of clothing sales electronically, with 52% of all transactions due to happen online next year, not 2025 as originally envisioned.

There is pressure on clothing retailers to pivot their business models and adapt to this new reality. For retailers to be successful in capturing consumers’ attention and driving growth online, the focus of stores will need to evolve.

As closures took effect across Europe, store visits have plummeted and research has found more than a third of UK consumers (35%) would not return to stores with the same frequency than before Covid-19.

In the UK, the report estimates the switch to the internet will mean an average loss in clothing store sales of £ 3 billion per year compared to pre-pandemic projections.

Gareth Planck, consumer and real estate partner at Eversheds Sutherland in Belfast, said: High Street Task Force.

“While retail is only part of what makes an urban center or mainstreet thriving, it is an important and important part. Changes in consumer habits and online shopping in particular present serious challenges for traditional “brick and mortar” stores.

“During the pandemic, we have seen the shift to consumers buying online accelerate, and even though they can now return to Main Street, we can see that shopping online has become a habit.

“The industry needs a transformation in planning, policies and skills to prevent billions of pounds in sales and hundreds of jobs from being lost in Northern Ireland.”


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