The rise of the fashionista supermarkets
Since the Millennium, core fashion retailers have seen online marketplaces, irregular weather patterns, and a wavering economy all present increasingly challenging trading conditions. But while retailers were distracted with the these hurdles, some of the UK’s high street most recognisable food retailers were changing the British public’s perception of stylish clothing at an affordable price. The supermarkets snuck in becoming mainstays in the Top 10 fashion retailers moving from strength to strength, chipping away at the big players’ shoppers and ultimately sales. So what continues to drive the supermarkets upward trajectory and how did they change shoppers’ minds that grocery stores can also be fashion destinations?
Twenty years ago, the supermarkets accounted for less than 10% of all clothing and footwear items sold in Britain. Today, that number has ballooned to nearly 25%. Their high volume sales tactics have also translated into £1 in £10 across fashion sales today. So how did the supermarkets achieve this? Firstly, British supermarkets were not the first grocers to see the possible profits to be made in the fashion industry. For decades, US stores like Target and Walmart targeted their own shoppers who are already coming for food, entertainment and electronics, to offer clothes as further items in shoppers’ basket. Target then stepped up their fashion game when they began introducing designer collaborations,
which the public responded to voraciously. While Walmart concentrated on the kidswear market, making affordable kids clothes in conjunction with branded characters and cartoons at very accessible prices. In Germany, Lidl is known as a destination for cupboards and closets with about a quarter of all clothing sales accounted by the retailer. More recently, Lidl has stopped dipping its toe in the British fashion market and thrown its hat fully into the ring with their latest collection in collaboration with Heidi Klum.
The biggest hurdle for the supermarkets, and still is for the value grocers, is changing the minds of the public that supermarket clothes are not only stylish, but just as good as the High Street. In grocery, shoppers are now wise to own label food being made in the same factories as household brands with slight recipe differences. In fashion, shoppers are realising the same process happens, seeing no reason why they should pay a premium for a more recognised label. As such, the grocers are able to offer shoppers value for money and more stylish choices than ever before, especially as they begin expanding into the likes of occasionwear, handbags and even tailoring as they invest in more fashion categories.
The grocers face an uphill battle, however, of convincing the public of their fashion credentials in higher ticket item areas. Is there a ceiling for the supermarkets in convincing shoppers what they can offer them? This issue is compounded by the fact that supermarkets are traditionally self-service, whereas fashion is customer service focused. Space also becomes an issue as the stores have to decide whether fashion or food deserves more space when it comes to the bottom line.
While the supermarkets may be facing their own challenges, what they are nailing on the head is right product, right price- the holy grail of fashion, as retailers try to become less reliant on discounting. The supermarkets sell what the product is worth encouraging shoppers to embrace fast fashion and feel like they are getting value, especially in kidswear, where the grocers thrive. Without having to fight for footfall, supermarkets are perfectly placed to appeal to consumers coming in for their weekly shops. With so many pieces to the fashion puzzle in place, it is no wonder that the real disrupters that traditional retailers need to keep a watchful eye out for are the sleeping grocery giants.
Data from Kantar Worldpanel Fashion Panel 52 w/e 27 Aug 2017**
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