Ahead of London Fashion Week, which begins today and runs until Tuesday, leading global consumer intelligence firm Mintel has published research suggesting that fashion e-commerce firms are “pushing all the right buttons” with UK consumers. Sales of clothing and footwear in the UK have exceeded £10 billion this year, a year-on-year increase of 14.5 per cent. Sales are expected to reach £19 billion by 2019, as online sales now account for around 17 per cent of total fashion spending (up from 13 per cent in 2011).
Tamara Sender, Senior Fashion Analyst said: “The market for online fashion continues to see robust growth as consumers become more accustomed to shopping online. Increased participation in shopping via smartphones and tablets has helped to bolster sales as consumers look to shop for clothes anytime and anywhere”. Although growth has slowed slightly from its peak of 19 per cent in 2012 as the market begins to mature, the outlook is still good for the industry.
While the majority of people (86 per cent) still use their laptops or desktop computers to buy fashion online, e-commerce behaviour is changing and more shoppers than ever are using mobile devices (13 per cent). Furthermore, almost half of consumers (44 per cent) have click-and-collected clothes in the last 12 months, and men are almost as likely to use click-and-collect as women – a significant development from last year when click-and-collect was almost exclusively used by women. Sender added, ‘As consumers combine different channels to shop for clothes, retailers have to ensure that shopping is truly seamless and that they give customers a consistent shopping experience whatever channel they choose to use”.
In spite of the growth in online sales, customers have made it very clear that they still favour multi-channel formats, especially when it comes to returning clothes. Over a third of women say they prefer to return unwanted items to a bricks-and-mortar store, and this remains a key obstacle to many shopping online. Sender said that familiarity with a shop and experience of their sizing helps, which “benefits multichannel retailers and means that pureplays have to work hard to gain trust and loyalty from customers”.
As Londoners prepare their wardrobes for London Fashion Week, the British Fashion Council has offered fashionistas the chance to watch many of the shows this year from the comfort of their living room. Shows such as Whistles and Holly Fulton have gone one step further, streaming the shows from their own stores where they will offer drinks, a live DJ and limited edition products to create the feel of a live show.
Organised by the British Fashion Council, London Fashion Week takes place twice a year in autumn and spring, and is considered to be one of the ‘Big Four’ fashion shows, ranked alongside New York, Paris and Milan. It is one of the biggest trade events held in London, attracting over 5,000 visitors, and is currently sponsored by Mercedes Benz and Toni & Guy.