During mid-September London was the home of the traditional Fashion Week, a major event on the global fashion calendar. Over the past several years the London Fashion Week established itself on par with similar events in Milan, Paris and NYC, attracting both the young designers and established fashion brands, especially those representing British style.
Back in September we published a VeInsight piece, looking into the effect of London Fashion Week on online shopping for fashion during 2012. It showed a strong impact. In September 2012 LFW generated a substantial uplift on shopper interest in fashion and on actual sales by fashion online retailers (see September’s blog post for more details).
Now, before we look into effects of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas shopping spree ahead, it’s the perfect time to analyse the data for September 2013. This year’s London Fashion Week had a much more subdued impact on shoppers’ interest in fashion. Our statistics show that the number of online sales across all the fashion retailers that we analysed, jumped by 16.2% during the week of LFW’13 (compared to previous week), while interest in online fashion shopping (as measured by the number of checkout visits in fashion e-shops), grew by 17.0%.
The following week, however, was a surprising disappointment to hopes of LFW’s influence over consumers’ behaviour, especially when you factor in that this was the first year that the event’s exclusive doors had been opened to consumers to attend, in a bid to try to boost the value of the industry and raise Britain’s profile as a fashion destination. The number of online sales in fashion in the UK was down by 5.3% (compared to pre-LFW levels), while the total checkout visits nevertheless grew by 4.4% (compared to pre-LFW levels). Disappointing. For whatever reason this modest interest did not translate into sales. This is somewhat surprising, as September 2013 was the time when newspapers were full of cheerful stories about the UK economy growing steadily and the confidence of British consumers rising further and further.
Possibly, this was due to the warm weather in September 2013, which hit clothing sales as a whole. As September was warm and mostly dry in the UK, many Britons opted for outdoors activities instead of online shopping. Additionally, warm weather did not generate significant demand for autumn and winter clothing and accessories.
The British Retail Consortium reported that like-for-like UK retail sales in September were up 0.7% from a year earlier. “These figures are a reality check and will make retailers nervous as we enter the run-up to Christmas. Unseasonably warm weather stifled sales of autumn and winter collections in September and the recovery in home-related items flattened. Consumers are still cautious about spending and are reluctant to restock their wardrobes with winter woolies until the weather cools”, - said David McCorquadale, head of retail at KPMG, in The Guardian back in October.
Now, with the onset of colder weather and continuing good news on the economic front, retailers are looking to more bumper sales of autumn and winter fashions. The British Retail Consortium added that the internet now accounts for 24.1% of clothing sales made by stores. Meanwhile experts claim that shoppers will spend an all time high of £10.8 billion with online retailers in December, up 15% on last year, so let’s just say: Fingers crossed!