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EDITORIAL Shoppers choosing quality and pre-loved as peak begins in earnest

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As Joules collapses into administration, retailers are all working hard to get as much out of Black Friday as they possibly can. Data out this week shows that larger retailers, particularly those selling foods and gifts, are already seeing an increase in sales, while the decline in online sales volumes post-pandemic is starting to bottom out.

Much of this is down to them starting their Black Friday campaigns at least two weeks earlier than last year and, with consumers looking for bargains against a backdrop of economic worry, the tactic is paying off for many of them.

While it has come too late for Joules, for many others it may provide an opportunity. Next, for example, has inked a deal to expand its third-party ranges into selling licensed and branded sports goods from Fanatic, a US company, that is set to clean up in the coming month around the World Cup. This is a canny move by Next, as it delivers the goods it needs in short order to capitalise not only on Black Friday and peak, but also the boost that the World Cup is hoped will bring to retail worldwide.

Meanwhile, investment by Asos, New Look and H&M in improving their online offering and creating a lively and engaging customer experience is paying off. These three have all been voted as the best customer experience in fashion online

This plays well into what shoppers want. A separate study out this week points to shoppers not necessarily looking just for the cheapest items, but those that offer good quality and value for money – and from retailers and brands that offer a good level of customer experience. 

This is interesting as recent weeks have seen a distinct move towards bargains and discounts among many shoppers. As Christmas nears and they start to look at what they are going to spend their more limit budgets in this year, they may be opting for fewer, but higher quality items.

There is also a growing shift towards looking for high quality, pre-loved luxury items to fill this need. Delivery company Yodel has seen stellar growth for its consumer to consumer (C2C) delivery service in recent weeks, driven it believes by more consumers looking to make a bit of extra cash by selling their unwanted goods and many shoppers looking to get hold of high-quality, second hand items – many of which they actually want to give as gifts.

While shoppers may be telling researchers that sustainability is becoming less of a priority in these straightened times, there is still a health market for quality, even if that is in second hand goods. 

This shift to quality and value is something that retailers must take note of. Shoppers are doing way more research than ever before ahead of buying, and they are increasingly going to stores to check things out then buying them – new or used – on their mobiles once out the door. 

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