Mar 18, 2021
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Forecasts for UK fashion retail bounce-back contain both good and bad news

Mar 18, 2021

There are some mixed signals coming out of the latest consumer research suggesting that the retail bounce-back could be delayed until late summer. But while studies also show priorities don’t always include clothes shopping, consumer spending wish lists (such as holidays and weddings) will require new clothes, accessories and beauty products and treatments.

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The latest EY Future Consumer Index says that while there’s plenty of pent-up spending demand, there’s also still consumer caution around the non-essential retailer reopening dates in April.

A lot of this is linked to vaccination rates and despite the UK’s most vulnerable people having been vaccinated, 55% of those surveyed will only feel life can get back to normal when everyone has had their jabs. Some 59% will avoid touching items when out and about until that’s been achieved.

EY is therefore expecting that the big return to normal behaviour will only come later in the summer when almost everyone has been vaccinated.

It also said retailers need to do everything they can to ease consumer anxiety about shopping in person with a big focus on hygiene. But on the plus side, it added that the power of the store and the ability to engage with people again can’t be underestimated.

Meanwhile, research from Scottish Friendly and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) showed that fashion shopping isn’t top of the must-do list for consumers. They expect a £50 billion shopping spree post-lockdown with households planning to spend 26% of the money they saved during the pandemic (although the Bank of England has suggested only between 5% and 10% of those savings could be spent).

The study of 4,000 adults showed 34% planning to take a foreign holiday and 29% will go on a UK break as their top priorities. A similar number wants to eat out more and 19% to visit pubs and bars.

What’s important about all of these activities is that while consumers don’t have to buy new fashion items for them, many are likely to. 

But it also found a significant number wanting to shop for clothes. Over 20% of people aim to buy more clothes, while 18% will spend on beauty products and 29% on personal care such as a haircut.

It suggests a bonanza for holiday clothing and going-out styles. Occasionwear and bridal could also have a strong season. Some 150,000 weddings were postponed last year and 73% of those couples will be spending the money they expected to spend in 2020 on their big day once restrictions are lifted in late June. That's according to research from The National Wedding Show and Confetti, which added that 73% of them also want to go on a honeymoon when they can.

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