£14bn loss expected for UK’s clothing & footwear sector

Covid-19 GlobalData pandemic
Clothing and footwear spend is expected to drop by 26.1% compared with 2019
// The UK clothing & footwear sector to endure £14bn loss due to coronavirus lockdown
// Online sales expected to drop 7.9%

The UK’s clothing and footwear market is set to become the worst hit sector amid the coronavirus pandemic, facing a £14 billion decline.

Clothing and footwear spend is expected to drop by 26.1 per cent compared with 2019, according to data and analytics company GlobalData.

Due to the lockdown extension, the sector is expected to face a 7.9 per cent decline in online sales.

While this is not a significant drop in contrast to the decline in bricks and mortar sales, GlobalData said it would not be enough to offset the loss in spend from physical stores.


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“While we predict that fashion stores will start to gradually reopen in June, footfall is expected to remain low as consumers will be cautious about visiting crowded areas,” GlobalData senior retail analyst Chloe Collins said.

“We expect several retail casualties within the fashion sector in the coming weeks, with Debenhams, Oasis and Warehouse already entering administration, and Arcadia said to be considering more store closures.

“Therefore, more empty spaces are anticipated on the high street, limiting physical fashion spend further.”

Collins added: “After initially closing on March 26, Next reopened its website last week, though at limited capacity due to enhanced safety measures, which has put pressure on other players with closed online operations to follow suit.

“Quiz, Fenwick and River Island have all resumed selling online again, and TK Maxx has made its website available for browsing only, though it should aim to restart warehouse operations as soon as possible so that it can take orders, as it has strong potential to drive sales of activewear during the lockdown.”

The pandemic has continued to have an impact on the sector, as the latest BRC-ShopperTrak footfall monitor found on Monday that retail footfall in the UK experienced its sharpest ever decline.

Overall footfall dived by 44.7 per cent in March due to the government-mandated lockdown.

It also revealed that UK footfall declined by 17.7 per cent in the three weeks before the lockdown was enforced on March 23.

In the two weeks after lockdown was announced, footfall sank by an average of 83.2 per cent after non-essential shops closed and people were told to stay at home.

High streets saw footfall decline 41.8 per cent in March compared with the previous year, as increased use of convenience stores provided a rare positive.

Shopping centres were harder hit by the lockdown, reporting a 43.6 per cent dive in footfall for the month.

Meanwhile, retail parks saw footfall decrease by 23.5 per cent in March.

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