Apr 16, 2021
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Fashion and beauty e-commerce orders fall as retail reopens

Apr 16, 2021

It may come as no surprise, but online retail orders in the UK have fallen as a result of the reopening of non-essential stores in England and Wales.

As shoppers returned to stores, UK e-tail orders fell - Photo: Nigel Taylor

Figures from e-commerce specialist Salesfire’s TrendDesk platform comparing Tuesday April 6 with Tuesday April 13 showed that fashion (clothing) orders fell as shoppers returned to stores. And footwear health & beauty were down as well.

The company collects data from over 3,000 online retailers and said total orders were down 12% week-on-week.

The fall in fashion orders was slightly larger than that at 12.2%, although footwear managed a narrower drop of only 9%. Meanwhile health & beauty revenue plummeted 18.8% but sports orders were down only 8.8%.

While the drops are significant, they’re also perhaps smaller than might have been expected given the relatively strong visitor traffic to physical shops when they reopened on April 12.

Explaining the figures, Rich Himsworth, CEO of Salesfire, said: “People have clearly been very excited to return to stores after a lengthy closure and this data supports the images we have seen this week of long queues outside shops in towns and cities across the country.

“A fall in online orders for fashion and footwear was expected, as people return to stores to see, touch and try out clothes in person and retailers have been working hard with campaigns to generate excitement at returning to the high street.”

He added that those labels that “place a focus on their bricks-and-mortar stores such as Primark and TK Maxx hold an edge because their experience requires an in-person visit”. And he said that while all the labels have gone out of their way to connect to consumers digitally during lockdown, it's hard to replicate the physical experience. 

He asked: “Brands such as Charlotte Tilbury and Boots’ No.7 have introduced live chat services, one-to-one virtual consultations and an online makeup try-on service to replicate the trying-on experience that so many people had missed during lockdown, but can anything beat the physical experience for health and beauty?”

However, reflecting those relatively small drops in online orders, he thinks some changes to the way we shop could be permanent. “The convenience of online shopping will continue and may outweigh the experiential aspect for many, particularly for everyday items that don’t need to be seen in person,” he explained. “The volume of delivery choices from Same Day to Next Day delivery means customers can get products quickly whilst still avoiding crowds and staying in the comfort of their own home.”

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