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The missing shoppers: global fashion spend 'to drop $300bn' in 2020

Published
May 13, 2020
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The size of the crisis that has hit the fashion sector around the world has been made very clear from a new analyst prediction that says the global apparel market will decline over 15% this year.


Enthusiastic shoppers - especially tourist shoppers - may be in short supply in major markets for some time


It’s set to be the hardest hit of all retail sectors with a decline in value of $297 billion for 2002 as a whole, or a percentage drop of 15.2%.

And mature markets like the US, Hong Kong and the biggest European countries might not get back on track until 2022.

That’s all according to data and analytics specialist GlobalData, whose principal analyst, Honor Strachan, said the 10 worst impacted markets, in terms of value, will represent the vast majority of this total loss with mature regions suffering the hardest.

It means the US will “account for more than 40% of all lost spend, which will contribute to more major chains filing for chapter 11 over the next few months”.

The country has already seen a number of big names filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, including J Crew and Neiman Marcus, with speculation that JC Penney could do so this weekend.

GlobalData added that while the recovery has already started across markets that have been released from lockdown and where social-distancing measures are being eased, any recovery is very vulnerable to consumer confidence — or more accurately, lack of confidence.

Other issues set to affect national retail sectors is a country’s reliance on tourism, the state of the country's economy and unemployment levels, plus the amount of what GlobalData calls “revenge buying”. That means the sudden release of pent-up demand from those willing and able to spend.

Strachan offered some hope for a spending resurgence in some markets, saying that “some brands across China are seeing store sales reach back up to 80%-100% of pre-Covid-19 trading levels, while apparel retailers in parts of Germany are also experiencing a better bounce-back than forecast”.


However, she also said that those operating in tourism-dependent markets like Hong Kong “are experiencing far tougher trading conditions”. And she thinks it’s too soon to assess the recovery in Italy, “but we expect it to be long and drawn out", while "the same will apply to France, the US and the UK.”

Even if retailers in some markets do experience ‘revenge spending’ in the initial months following a lift in lockdown and then see trading return to 2019 levels later in H2, across the 49 markets the company covers, it doesn’t expect this to make up for the lost periods of trading in H1. And those expecting some level of meaningful growth to be seen once markets have got back on track could be disappointed. “The global apparel market is not expected to return or exceed its 2019 value until at least 2022,” Strachan concluded.

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