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Online fashion sales soar +363% in November

Tom Bottomley
16 December 2020

The total number of UK online fashion sales increased +363% throughout the month of November, as England was put through Lockdown 2.

Orders during Black Friday week, also termed Cyber Week – from Wednesday 25 November to 2 December (in order to accommodate both Black Friday and Cyber Monday) – shot up +159% week-on-week, according to new data from True Fit, the leading personalisation platform for apparel and footwear.

Web traffic also surged across the Black Friday weekend, with the biggest surge in year-on-year growth taking place on Saturday 28 November, up +26% year-on-year, as fashion shoppers made the most of mark-downs, according to data from True Fit’s Fashion Genome, the world's largest connected data set for fashion, which analyses data from 17,000 retail brands and from 180 million True Fit members, who are registered shoppers on the platform.

For womenswear, “structured categories” outperformed last year, despite shoppers shifting to work from home (WFH) lockdown restrictions. Sales of fashion jackets jumped +71% and, perhaps surprisingly, sales of formal shirts rose +88% compared to last year – no doubt as a result of WFH Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings and the need to look presentable. Casual tops, including T-shirts, were also up 93% year-on-year for women.

On menswear, it seems men have maintained buying jeans much more than women have since March, with orders up +120% year-on-year.  Despite continuing to wear more structured bottoms than women, men’s formal top categories are not up as much as has been seen for women, with sales of blazers and formal shirts up, but only by +60% year-on-year.

While November orders for fashion were up, average order value (AOV) fluctuated throughout the month. While AOV reached 2019 levels mid-month, basket sizes dipped year-on-year by -13% during the week of Black Friday.  True Fit suggests the reason for this downturn in AOV during Cyber Week is shoppers buying earlier in the month, as retailers brought forward discounts and extended Black Friday promotions over a longer period, combined with a dip in UK consumer confidence.

Even outside of Black Friday and traditional end-of-season sales periods, many fashion retailers have continued discounting as a way of stimulating demand. At the same time, consumers remain cautious about discretionary spend, choosing to shop lower value ticket items, but with more purpose and frequency as the demand for fashion ecommerce remains.

Sarah Curran-Usher, General Manager for EMEA at True Fit, said: “While discounting might seem an obvious route to stimulating demand, especially at a time when shoppers are increasingly cautious due to economic uncertainty, for the long-term retailers need to focus less on markdowns and more on margin protection. Key to being able to sell more stock at full price are data insights, delivered on an individual, one-to-one customer level.

“Knowing how that customer shops across product attributes - from size and fit to style and categories, as well as how they shop outside of your brand, is key to creating the granular level of understanding needed to create engagement around products they will love and keep.

“This enables retailers to close what we call the ‘loyalty loop’, meaning a virtuous circle of trust that’s built up between a brand and a customer, that drives not just the confidence to buy, but crucially loyalty and customer life-time value.”

With demand for online personalisation up as high as +123% since March, 2020, according to True Fit’s data, the platform added an additional 2.8million members to its database during "Cyber 5" this year.

Brands who use True Fit’s platform, and who’s data feeds into the Fashion Genome, include Boden, QUIZ, 7 For All Mankind, H&M, Kate Spade, UGG and Asics.

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