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‘Back to the office outfitting’ boosts online fashion sales by 15% in September

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Fashion checkouts increased 15% year-on-year in September, representing an 8% increase on the month prior, driven by ‘back to the office outfitting’ as people started to return to work.

Digital browsing also saw a boost in September, with web traffic to fashion retailers up 22%, while AOV also increased, up 8% on the monthly average for 2021 and +6% y-o-y, pointing to sustained consumer confidence even amidst the supply chain disruption experienced by UK retailers. 

So finds data from True Fit’s Fashion Genome, the world’s largest connected data set for fashion, which analysed data from 17,000 retail brands and 80 million active True Fit members who shop on the platform.  This comes in addition to the exponential growth in demand for online fashion witnessed last year during the pandemic, with fashion checkouts in 2021 remaining 6% higher than in 2020, showing the sustained demand for ecommerce and a long-term shift in the behaviour of increasingly digitally-first consumers. 

Demand for women’s dresses, for example, has now overtaken denim – and by mid-October dress sales were outstripping denim by 10%, according to True Fit’s data, while demand for more formal footwear, such as boots, have consistently outpaced trainers since July, and represented 50% more purchases compared to trainers last month. 

However, hybrid working has still got Brits opting for ‘comfort’ when it comes to workwear outfitting – True Fit’s data shows casual wear checkouts are up across womenswear and menswear since the beginning of the month, up 140% and 180% respectively. 

And that shift looks to be set to stay in the long-term; just 12% of UK consumers in a recent poll planned to completely return to the traditional, formal ‘nine-to-five’ workwear look, opting for a hybrid style that combined work-from-home comfort with office attire.  Meanwhile,John Lewis reported sales of ties were down -75% year-on-year

With businesses bringing workers back to the office in September, along with the end of the furlough scheme seeing employees heading back to work, footfall in UK cities rose 7% last month compared to August, and now represents 67% of pre-pandemic levels, according to Centre for Cities’ High Street Recovery Tracker

This, it says, is thanks to rising commuter footfall travelling to and from workplaces and during lunch hours.  And, as well as commuters bringing welcome trade back into town and city centres, it’s also reinvigorating UK consumers’ wardrobes, with ‘back to the office’ outfitting boosting new category buying spikes online.

Sarah Curran Usher MBE, GM EMEA at True Fit, says: “The sustained and continued upward growth in demand for online fashion shows shoppers are now truly digital-first – even the most devout bricks-and-mortar fashion shoppers have shifted and stayed online, while those who were already digitally-native have had those behaviours further reinforced and entrenched.”  

She concludes: “For retailers, that means supporting customers in new ways that match their evolved shopping needs.  Central to that is being able to quickly get under the skin of customers’ preferences around fit and size, to connect them with only what they love.  Only then can they turn site traffic from first-time browsers into repeat-returning shoppers, and existing customers into long-term brand advocates.”

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