Lockdown hits online clothing sales

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The first month under lockdown sent online clothing sales in to decline to the tune of -23.1% year-on-year in March.

As the government’s new lockdown rules came into force throughout March, the fashion industry was sent into a whirlwind of unprecedented uncertainty.

In a month where spring buying would typically set in, online clothing sales were hugely impacted, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.

Digging deeper into fashion sales, menswear was down a staggering -42.9% and footwear was down -32.8%.

Meanwhile, as they are forced to shift more operations into the digital sphere, multichannel retailers outperformed their online only counterparts for the first time since April 2019, recording a drop of -4% versus -5.5%.

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant at Retail Insight, Capgemini, said: “‘Non-essential’ stores closed their doors on the high street, which led to the majority of multichannel retailers gaining a boost in online performance in the latter half of the month as consumers channelled their demand into digital. However, the changing demand and customer needs has also polarised impacts on different product categories where the appetite for fashion dropped off significantly compared to garden, home and electrical.”

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, added: “There is a bit of a myth going around at the moment that online sales are booming. It’s more accurate to say some online retailers are experiencing huge demand, outstripping even that seen over Black Friday, because so many people are in the exact same situation – stuck at home. That has created very lopsided demand among product categories.

“People simply don’t have much need for new clothes or shoes at the moment, which is why at the overall level sales growth is down. How and when a stronger balance in demand might be established is a pressing question for retailers currently on the wrong side of that divide.”