As per FTI Consultings’s Trends in the Apparel Sector survey, the economic catastrophe spurred by COVID-19 was particularly harsh on the apparel industry. With the entire world practicing self-distancing, governments across the US deeming apparel as ‘non-essential’ business, retailers saw their sales plummet. Around 36 per cent of the 1,000 consumers surveyed said support of COVID-19 victims and frontline workers influenced their brand loyalty. Nearly the same number of respondents reported being influenced by great prices.
Price and value drove the majority of customers to switch brands. Around 29 percent respondents switched brands during COVID-19 due to the product’s price and value factors. Around 54 per cent reported missing brick and mortar stores for the touch feel and see factor they offered. However, these consumers also highlighted the convenience of online purchasing and preference for contactless purchase/concerns about hygiene as being the core drivers for customers not looking to return to stores.
According to these respondents, online apparel sales are projected to cannibalize about 7 to 10 per cent of store sales. They advised retailers to improve distribution channels and automation to meet this demand. Retailers should also conduct a holistic review of their store portfolios to identify what store closures are necessary for long-term survival. One-third of consumers reported being excited to return to stores for the tactile experience of shopping, such as trying on clothes and leaving with new purchases in hand.