Online fashion sales rise as shoppers plan their return to the office, reveals new data

The easing of lockdown restrictions has boosted online fashion sales as shoppers dress to impress for the office and going out, reveals new data from True Fit. Figures comes from the leading personalisation platform’s Fashion Genome, which analyses data from 17,000 retail brands 180 million shoppers.

Fashion checkouts rose by +12 per cent year-on-year in July while web traffic to clothing retailers’ sites spiked by +35 per cent across June and July compared to 2020. Fashion checkouts were also up +51 per cent in July compared to pre-pandemic levels in July 2019, demonstrating the accelerated and sustained demand for online fashion.

Consumer confidence was also up, with average order values out-pacing 2020 levels since March and peaking in the last week of July, rising to +17 per cent year-on-year as the nation came out of lockdown.

Sarah Curran Usher MBE, GM EMEA at True Fit, comments: “We have witnessed the rise and rise of digital as fashion shoppers have switched and stayed online, even as stores have reopened.  But this great digital opportunity has brought a huge amount of change with it, which retailers must be ready to capitalise on if they are going to drive long-term growth and customer loyalty.”

Order volumes of women’s dresses jumped by 8 per cent from June to July ahead of Freedom Day. Women’s dresses have also seen a steady rise since the start of the year as restrictions have eased, rising 150 per cent from February to March when outdoor mixing was once again allowed. And this trend continued to rise, peaking in May (up 198 per cent points since the start of the year) when hospitality fully reopened.

While a return to the office is also boosting formal wear sales, the move to hybrid working for many is also impacting fashion category spend.  With 43/50 of the UK’s biggest employers not planning to bring staff back to the office full time, the shift between workwear and ‘work-from-home’ wear also remains fluid.

In late 2020, women’s tops outpaced orders of trousers and skirts by 120 per cent, while sales of men’s tops outperformed trousers by 90 per cent over the same period, as Brits took meetings via video calls. However, by June, the gap closed to just 5 per cent in womenswear and 17 per cent in menswear, signalling that top-to-toe outfitting is now returning.

Curran Usher adds: “Consumers aren’t just reinventing how they engage with brands online – their whole buying behaviours and wardrobe ethos have pivoted as the pandemic has played out. They’ve swapped allegiances, tried new brands and given up on others. Some have changed shape while others have adjusted their style preferences as they’ve adapted to lockdowns and unlocking and new working routines – even a brand’s most loyal of customers will behave and buy in a completely unrecognisable way to how they did before the pandemic. In short, the customer is the disruptor in retail now.”

She concludes: “Being able to understand and keep up with these emerging behaviours relies on being able to draw insight on how customers shop across collections, categories and price points. This can then inform key decisions across the business – from merchandising to marketing – so that emerging needs of shoppers can be met on a true one-to-one basis.”