The Thread: Hot weather slows down holiday purchases
Throughout the challenges the high street has been facing over recent years, buying for holiday has proven to be an effective motivator for those in need of suitable wear for their annual escape from the cold. In 2017, we as a nation went abroad 72.8 million times, most commonly for a holiday*. And holiday-related expenditure has continued to grow, boosting the value of the market to £3.5bn. While retailers are all well aware of the opportunity and have responded with extensive offerings in swimwear and beach accessories, the good weather lately may not be such good news for them.
Staycations hit holiday spend
With the consistently sunny weather throughout July, there’s been less of a need for those sunseeking shoppers to get away. This is reflected our latest figures, which find holiday spend in the fashion market is down by 3.3% over the past quarter**, and has gone into year on year decline. As this previously reliable driver of growth starts to slow down, retailers need to think ahead and ensure they are well placed to capture opportunities in other growth areas in the market.
In contrast to the slowing spend in holiday wear, the total clothing, footwear and accessories market has recovered from declines earlier in the year. In the latest quarter, spend in the market is up by 0.1%, driven by an improved performance from general daywear purchases. This is the most commonly cited reason for a fashion purchase, and accounts for 47.6% of all clothing spend. Last year this figure stood at 46.4% of all clothing sales, showing that basic fashion purchases are becoming a higher priority for shoppers. As a result, retailers need to consider the practicality of their products as this is a factor that consumers are starting to value more.
Bricks to clicks
Unsurprisingly, online sales have been the main contributor to the sales uplift in fashion purchases for general use. Online spend increased by 10.2% over the last quarter, compared to just 0.2% in bricks-and-mortar, and there’s still plenty of headroom for the channel to expand. With the fickle weather and high street footfall continuing to pose a challenge, retailers can never be too well prepared when it comes to online product availability.
Although getting the right product mix for general daywear purchases is likely to be trickier than selections of swimsuits and beach bags, casual categories that offer comfort are favoured the most. While having a bigger range of ‘casual skirts’ does not necessarily guarantee boosted sales, those retailers able to deliver better value, higher quality, more flexible ways to purchase as well as the right products will certainly stand out from the crowd.
Despite these changing patterns of shopper behaviour, it is not the case that people are no longer seeking experiences with their fashion purchases. However, retailers should be alive to the fact that it is now more important than ever to be adaptive and know what their shoppers want. While capitalising on any fast-growing trend could lead to short-term growth, relying on a single driver without a well-rounded strategy to satisfy shoppers will not be enough to compete in today’s market.
**12 weeks to 1st July 2018