Fifth of consumers 'won't buy fashion in-store again' says new survey
Fashion retailers are facing the potential prospect of 20% of UK shoppers saying they won't be returning to stores to buy fashion in the future.
That claim comes from independent research commissioned by Zurich-based tech company Meepl, which spoke to more than 2,000 consumers and discovered a sizeable minority unwilling to return to physical shopping and preferring to stick with e-shopping instead.
It also found a massive majority seeking new solutions to help improve their future physical shopping experiences.
As well as one in five of those surveyed saying they “will never shop in-store for clothes again,” 67% said they’d only return to traditional bricks-and-mortar clothing stores if they “make vast changes in terms of shop floor layout and hygiene precautions”.
And 55% believe there need to be “serious adaptions made to in-store changing rooms such as larger spacing, cleanliness, and limiting the number of people trying on clothes”.
We could dismiss some of this as an understandable reaction to an unprecedented period in which consumers have been encouraged to view outdoor spaces and other people as nothing more than potential sources of infection. In that case, the unwillingness to shop in physical spaces could decrease as people realise that the outside world is safer than they think.
But of course, some people won't adjust their thinking and any second wave of the coronavirus will reinforce their concerns. Added to this is the realisation among many consumers — even those who aren't particularly cautious — that online shopping is easier than they thought. And there’s the expectation that physical shops could introduce new technology that would both enhance the overall shopping experience and also make it generally more hygienic.
“The physical shopping in-store experience needs to be urgently addressed and altered to increase consumer confidence or the UK high street could be in grave danger,” Meepl said. “It sparks the potentially devastating impact for the nation’s retail shops, department stores and shopping centres”.
The company makes a 3D smartphone-based body-scanning clothes companion so it's understandable why the research was conducted. And it's likely that such companies will see something of a mini boom post-pandemic as more physical and online retailers investigate technology options.
Its founder and CEO Ferdinand Metzler said: “The retail and fashion industries have both been shaken up on a global scale because of Covid-19. Complying with measures to make your store ‘Covid-secure’ is not transformation, it’s a short-term fix that won’t be enough to keep your customers happy and returning in the long term. Our survey results are an important indicator of where and how retailers need to start their transformation.”
And he thinks the transformation is particularly important in the changing room zone. He said people who venture as far as the changing room are almost seven times more likely to buy products than those who simply browse the sales floor. And with more than half of survey respondents expecting big differences in the changing room experience when shops reopen, this should be a key focus for retailers.
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