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Clicking for clobber: UK shoppers are voracious online clothes shoppers, study reveals

Online fashion is a big growth area for UK retailers

UK shoppers are increasingly buying their clothes online, with a quarter of them admitting they do it at least every fortnight. And men are more frequent shoppers than women.

Research conducted by the Fashion Retail Academyreveals that more than a quarter (28%) of Brits shop for clothes online at least every two weeks, while almost a third (32%) shop online every 30 days at a minimum.

When it comes to age groups, 35-44 year olds are the most frequent shoppers with as many as 10% admitting that they shop for clothes online every day, while 24% of 24-34 year olds search for their next purchases on a weekly basis.

Londoners are the most frequent online shoppers, with 10% of them saying they shop on clothing websites every day, higher than any other region in the UK.

The poll of 2,000 people commissioned by the Academy1 showed that there was no divide along gender lines as 28% of both men and women said they shop for clothes online at least every two weeks. However, more men buy clothes online every day than women — 5% for men vs 3% for women. 

Convenience was cited as the number one reason why people shop for fashion online, followed by the ability to shop 24/7 and the lower price options. The ability to shop at any time of the day was more important to younger people, with 69% of 18-24 year olds saying this was the main reason why they shopped online compared to 50% of 45-54 year olds, and 38% of people aged over 50. 

Yet despite the widespread popularity of online shopping, 63% of people said they had bought an inexpensive item online only to find it looks nothing like the picture shown on the retailer’s website. 

The survey found the problem most encountered by shoppers was discovering the material looked different to how it appeared online, with 30% of respondents saying they had encountered this. In total, 28% said they had bought items which were much too small, and a fifth (20%) received clothes which were much too big. 

However, despite the problems associated with not viewing items of clothing in real life, the research showed not everyone makes use of online reviews with only 27% of people saying they always read them and almost one in five (18%) saying they never do. 

Londoners are more likely to read reviews, with 38% saying they always take a look at them, followed by 31% in Scotland, the West Midlands, and the South West.

Lee Lucas, principal and CEO of the Fashion Retail Academy, one of the UK’s leading fashion schools, explains: “Online shops are always open for business, and that makes it incredibly convenient for Brits who want to get their hands on the latest fashions but don’t have the time to visit the high street.”

He continues: “The fact that the biggest group of daily shoppers were aged 35-44 suggests that Brits with busy work schedules, a school run and children to look after, are most keen to embrace the convenience offered by online retailers. However, while you know exactly what you are getting when you buy a TV or book online, it is not always possible to tell the exact fabric or colour when it comes to clothes.”

Lucas adds: “One benefit of retailers who have physical stores as well as an online presence is that items are less likely to be of poor quality. They are being picked up and handled by shoppers every day and that acts as a bit of an insurance policy for the shopper who goes straight to online.”

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