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Published On: Wed, May 30th, 2018

UK Clothing Purchase Habits Reveal a New Era of Commerce

Consumers’ shopping habits have been fundamentally modified as technology and facile Internet access have been made widely available for everybody, and this shows in numbers. In 2017, the British fashion market increased by 17%, and this year, the ascending trend is expected to gain more traction. However, the clothing stores where the Brits invest their money has also changed over the past few years. Young consumers are switching towards durable and utility clothing. Local designers also seem to gain popularity.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

The Brits’ love relationship with brands such as Forever 21 and H&M is on a decline now, as these mass manufacturers are no longer able to deliver the type of articles that lately caught millennials’ attention. Clothing with a purpose, clothing that does not generate as much waste and pollution, these seem to be at the top of young consumer’s preferences. Outdoor clothing won the hearts of young consumers. But what exactly drives these clothing habits and what do they mean for the fashion industry as a whole?

The British are increasingly shopping online

According to the Office for National Statistics, more than 90% of UK households have Internet access. More than 70% of the adults in the UK are shopping online, unlike in the past, when only 53% of them were relying on online stores to make their acquisitions –  back in 2008. The reason why online shopping has become more popular in the British community goes beyond facile access to the Internet. 49% of the respondents to a survey commissioned by Royal Mail claimed that convenience is the main reason for choosing this method.

Older consumers identify price as a main motivator, but also convenience. Online shopping seems to be integrated in people’s routine, at least in the UK. According to a survey conducted by the British retailer Shop Direct, more than 25% of the respondents claimed to be shopping online in bed, while more than 20% claimed that some “on-the-go” online shopping is involved in their daily commute time. The online retailers that the British consumer seems to prefer are Amazon.uk, Amazon.com, Argos, Next, Tesco, ASOS, but also small, local brands.

Shopping frequency trends are also at a peak and driven by age category. Young adults (aged 24 to 34) shop online more than their older counterparts, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Millennials are switching towards durable, utility clothing

Some of the most popular purchases in 2017 were sports articles and accessories, making it the most popular type of products purchased by the UK consumer. A shopping spree for brands targeted at the outdoorsmen has been identified among individuals with no tangencies with such activities. However, the durability and utility integrated into each fashion item seem to be the main motivator for such purchase decisions. A change in political, economic and social climate seems to also drive these choices. Heritage brands are experiencing a rise in sales as they are perceived as more ethical and sustainable than the mass-manufactured option.

The culture of buying cheap and poor-quality brands is on a sensitive decline. Clothing articles, accessories and shoes have to have a purpose for today’s millennial, otherwise it’s a no-go. The most illustrative example is the case of Birkenstock, a sandal brand with a tradition of centuries for the German consumers, which have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The supportive insoles have transformed this brand into a powerful one, although the design completely lacks fashion appeal. This is how the “ugly shoe trend” was born. Classic in appearance, with a rich history to back their story and core-values, millennials seem to be more inclined to buy those unappealing and unassuming brands, that offer in exchange durability and usefulness.

Local designers are gaining popularity

The vast majority of adults (93%, to be more exact) that bought products online in 2017, were shopping for local, British brands. The online orders placed to EU or non-EU shops is on a decline in the UK. 31% of those were placed to EU-based online shops, and the same to non-EU online shops. Local designers seem to be in the perfect position to guess consumer’s needs and preferences, as they have a more restricted geographical, economic and social area to cover and analyse. A great place to get the latest designer fashion brands is local online shops, targeted at the UK fashion market. A new era for the British fashion market is beginning. A change in habits and preferences, an incredibly easy access and convenience drive and fuel these new purchase trends.

The UK clothing market is expected to grow, as the shopping habits also grow and change. While the consumer is not placing online orders as frequently as they did in the past, the value of the online orders placed is on a rise.

Author: Cynthia Madison

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