June 26 2020– As more and more of us emerge from months in lockdown, some retail prognosticators have been announcing a speedy return to business as usual. Save the trappings of enforced social distancing, the hand sanitising stations and ugly arrows herding us like cattle around the shopping aisles, they’re eagerly encouraging a bit of retail therapy.
Many however will find themselves disappointed as the post-covid consumer tentatively returns to spending, with a heightened sense of caution.
Whilst news coverage showed endless queues outside high street stalwarts Zara, Primark and JD Sports last week as shops reopened, even accounting for initial novelty, footfall figures were still down by one third year to date.
A Local Perspective
With travel restrictions now the norm, consumers have been forced to shop more locally. And whilst the assumption may be that once travel is deemed safe, and the trains and buses are running at full capacity, consumers will be tempted further afield, the opposite is true.
A recent survey by Deloitte showed that 57 percent of consumers are now more likely to buy from brands that produce locally, than before the pandemic.
This ties into a consumer mindset trained on sustainability. The coronavirus has made us all more aware of the ecological impact of manufacturing, travel, and ultimately our own consumption habits. As the figures suggest, this will manifest as a renewed interest in local production and local retail.
Corporate Lip Service
The intense scrutiny brands and retailers have experienced during the pandemic is really coming home to roost. 28 percent of Gen Z consumers – our most socially engaged generation – say that they have stopped purchasing from brands because of their response to the coronavirus outbreak. Brands that put profit over people and showed a disregard for their employees’ health will suffer for their oversight.
Whilst those brands that responded positively, helping their staff and communities, and demonstrating impactful action will emerge better off. 62% of consumers surveyed say they are more likely to spend their money with brands they perceive to have acted responsibly.
An acute sensibility towards brand values will characterise future consumers, and those brands with vague, ambiguous or exclusionary messaging will fall short.
In May, online sales accounted for 33.4 percent of all retail in Britain, a month-on-month growth of 19.7 percent. And, as many brands have gained new digital-only audiences during lockdown, an effective digital-first approach is being looked at as a future resilience system.
Many CEO’s have said publicly that Direct-to-Consumer has been either their saving grace, or their biggest regret in cases where there has been a lack of investment.
Across fashion business, progressive leaders are considering more effective ways to connect more directly with digital natives. Inditex founder, Amancio Ortega, has announced a plan to spend 1 billion Euros on its online offering by 2022, shuttering 1,200 of its stores around the world at the same time.
Those business leaders that say nothing beats the physical experience of bricks and mortar retail will be supplanted by those who successfully innovate to translate the in-store experience to the digital realm.
Several brands are now anticipating what would the future of the fashion industry look like. But buyers have something else in their mind; they will buy local products. Brands that have shown compassion in the adverse times and adopted digital solutions to connect directly with consumers are more likely to be preferred in the market. We at iDesigniBuy, a fashion tech company, understand customers’ sentiments and help brands accommodate these demands. Our customization solution acts as a bridge between the two as it allows customers to create their designs and visualize them in 3D before placing an order. Collaborate with our experts to explore more.