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The Index: physical retail stores remain Britons' favourite channel for buying fashion

Lauretta Roberts
09 December 2019

More than half of British fashion shoppers say their preferred channel for buying fashion remains the physical retail store.

According to the latest monthly wave of's on-going study into the behaviour and attitudes for the British fashion shopper – The Index, which is produced in partnership with Klarna – some 56% of them prefer to buy their clothes in-store. Buying online via a desktop is the next preferred method, cited by 18% of shoppers.

However when it comes to how they actually buy clothes, shoppers are far more multichannel with 57% saying they bought both online and in-store when shopping for fashion in the past three months, and 28% saying they bought in-store only.

While the news of the popularity of the retail store may be welcome it is skewed by the older consumer. Gen Z shoppers in 16-24 age group prefers to shop online with 54% citing various online options, from desktop to smartphone via apps, as their favourite channel. Indeed it is not until the shopper gets to over the age of 45 that the store becomes the most preferred method.

Interestingly overall men are far more likely to favour physical retail stores than women (59% versus 53%) with shoppers outside of London more likely to prefer shopping in-store. London shoppers are split 50/50 between the preference for physical and digital shopping.

The Index

When it comes to the type of retail store that is the most popular, value retailers win out. Some 62% of the 2,000 shoppers surveyed said they had shopped with a value fashion retailer in the previous three months, versus 58% for a mainstream high street retailer and 47% for an online only retailer. The exclusive figures also reveal the popularity of sportswear almost 40% of shoppers saying they had bought apparel or footwear in a sports retailer in the last three months.

These findings are just a sample of the insight published in part 1 of The Index, released today, which also includes information on shoppers intentions to spend in the next 12 months and breakdowns of which consumers shopped across which sector and which format (the data shows a clear preference for shopping in malls versus high street for younger consumers for instance).

Every month shoppers will be asked the same questions and the findings will be published within The Intelligence section of which is available to paid members of the service only.

In part two of the study, which will be published later this week, we will be revealing exactly which retailers attracted shoppers from six core sectors: value fashion; mainstream fashion; purely etail; premium; luxury; and sports. Across those sectors we have identified a cross section of 100 brands & retailers, who will be tracked every month according to who visited them in-store and online and who bought from them and via which channel.

For every single retailer in the list an individual tracker chart is produced showing movements in their popularity. Further more each brand & retailer will be awarded a "Buzz Score" based on current positive and negative sentiment, enabling retailer to see whether good or bad "buzz" has a direct impact on whether shoppers will visit and buy in a store.

It will also enable brands & retailers to track their own performances, as well as that of their nearest competitors. And for those brands not listed they can benchmark themselves again the nearest like-for-like business.

This study is unique to and is created for us by leading consumer research organisation Savanta, who survey 2,000 nationally representative fashion shoppers each month, equally split between key demographics, such as age, region, socio-economic group, and gender.

Already a paid member? Access the latest installation of The Index here. If not, please visit our Join Us page to learn more about becoming a paid member, along with a list of all the other benefits included in the membership package.

The Index is produced in proud partnership with Klarna.


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