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UK fashion shopper caution grows, lengthening consideration phase of apparel purchases

While digital fashion browsing grew year-on-year in September, fashion shoppers are expressing caution when it comes to apparel purchases, with online order volumes dipping to -8% YoY.

Insight from True Fit’s Fashion Genome, which brings together data from 80 million active shoppers and more than 17,000 brands, shows that in September, web traffic to fashion retailer websites grew +14% YoY, with demand for online browsing remaining high.   

However, while digital browsing remained high, UK fashion checkouts in September were down -8% YoY, but were up on August order volumes by 9 percentage points month-on-month.  Order volumes rallied in early October, recovering to just -2% down YoY in the first two weeks of the month, up +25% over September 2022 levels.

With the UK experiencing economic turbulence, as inflation climbed back up to double digits, hitting 10.1% in September according to the ONS, and energy cap rises coming into effect from the beginning of October, consumers are acting increasingly cautiously when it comes to discretionary spend.

While True Fit’s data shows a dip in the frequency of online fashion orders, shoppers are spending more when they do convert, bolstered by early Christmas shopping. 

Separate research of 2,000 shoppers by Sensormatic Solutions showed that 81% of UK consumers had already begun their Christmas shopping, with a third (31%) already starting in September and half 50% starting in October.  

Fashion AOV rose, up +2% YoY in September compared to 2021 and grew to +6% YoY in the first two weeks in October.  Basket sizes also recovered to their highest point since the beginning of July, with AOV climbing by 15 percentage points to $160 by the end of last month.  

True Fit’s MD EMEA, Sarah Curran MBE, comments: “As shoppers’ are becoming more cautious, their consideration phase for purchasing is lengthening.  And this is why we’re seeing the trend for lots of browsing, as consumers search around  for the best deals or take longer to validate their decision before committing to a purchase, prompting traffic levels to be buoyed.”  

Curran  concludes: “This sustained growth in online browsing points to demand still being there, but with longer discovery and consideration phases, the emphasis is put even more squarely on retailers and brands to ensure that consumers are supported during their buying journey, with rich, relevant and meaningful customer engagement from first-look right through to the checkout.”

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