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Fashion discounting surges as coronavirus devastates SS20

Published
Mar 25, 2020
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While the current retail lockdown will be undeniably devastating for fashion shops, even before stores were forced to close, the SS20 season was beginning to look like a write-off with a leap in the number of discounted products. And the leap has continued since the lockdown started, data from LovetheSales.com shows.


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Retailers were discounting heavily and at "unprecedented levels" before the order to shut all fashion shops came in, with the data showing that discounts had been accelerating throughout March and have continued to do so in the past few days.

LovetheSales helps consumers shop the online sales through one website and tracks more than 6 million full-price and discounted products across 1,000+ global retailers. It said that from March 19 up until March 25, the number of products discounted online increased by 21% compared to the previous week and by 40% compared to the same period last year. 

But some categories have fared worse than others and discounts have been particularly large in footwear and accessories. In the seven-day period referred to above, men's footwear discounts rose 30% on the week and 31% on the year, while women's footwear markdowns grew an even bigger 34% on the week and 39% on the year. And discounts on women's accessories rose 31% compared to the previous week and a massive 71% year-on-year.

That could be put down to an understandable reaction to store closures. But as mentioned, those discounts had also been rising fast earlier in the month when shops remained open. For example, from March 9 to March 19, an extra 23% of apparel stock was reduced in price compared to the previous week and the figure was up 43% year-on-year.

And the increase in discounting was seen across the board, suggesting “retailers are looking to online to solve what will become a major issue for them over the next few months, cash flow being a primary focus,” the company said.

Interestingly, prior to the lockdown, the company said luxury brands had 123% more products on discount compared to the previous week. This is a complete contrast to last year. Over the same period in 2019, there had been a 17% fall in luxury discounted goods.

And while premium brands had only 1% more products on discount compared to the previous week, looking at the same period in 2019, there had also been a fall in discounts, but this time of 36%. So that 1% increase is actually a 37% negative gap compared to last year. 

High street brands had 11% more products on discount compared to the previous week, while in 2019 the number of products marked down had risen only 6%. 

Again, as the figures for footwear above show, different categories suffered more than others pre-lockdown. Week-on-week in the period, women’s onesies had 55% more products on discount, while for women's underwear it was 54%. Maternity wear saw 51% more products on discount and for women's jeans it was 32%. 

For men, jeans and T-shirts saw 33% more products on discount, while retailers must have been assuming that men wouldn't be buying much underwear without added inducements as 83% more products were on discount in the period. 

LovetheSales founder Stuart McClure said: “Retailers are facing an unprecedented situation right now. One that could put them out of business. These unseasonably high volumes of discount are intended to drive spend and clear stock. However, retailers need to start considering new ways to solve what will become an even bigger issue for them throughout 2020 and into 2021.”

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