Safety measures paramount to kick-start apparel retail operations: Survey

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on June 08, 2020

Lockdown ushers new customers to online apparel stores

As the apparel retail industry prepares to open its doors again, a new survey has revealed that one in three individuals who never shopped online for apparel, is now eager to adopt online channels. The lockdown could also interestingly bring a new set of customers to online stores - older population.

Change in consumer behaviour, pent-up demand, and the readiness to explore different brands that offer value are all set to give fashion e-commerce a major boost.

Fashion brands and customers alike appear to be eagerly awaiting resumption of services, since most online players were forced to curtail deliveries due to the lockdown and physical stores downed the shutters.

Around 58 per cent respondents in a survey stating their eagerness to shop post the lifting of the lockdown. Only 35 per cent surveyed consumers believe they have enough clothes and don't need to shop, a survey conducted by Wazir Advisors, consultants for textile, apparel and consumer goods sector and Crownit research showed.

In May, the consultancy reached out to affluent consumers in the 18-60 age group across eight metros and 16 smaller cities. For the research, 1,700+ consumers across 24 cities were surveyed to get a sense of the consumer mindset towards fashion.

While 45 per cent of those surveyed said they would prefer to defer shopping until the festival season, a huge portion (65 per cent) said the crisis would not stop them from buying basic clothing.

The survey showed consumers are actively seeking value, with 70 per cent respondents eager to buy clothes that can comfortably be used either for work from home or stay at home. Post lockdown, however, 60 per cent said they would invest in clothing that helps working from home and occasional office visits.

Safety first

Safety has emerged as a main criteria across age cohorts, with the study noting it is also a key reason for older audiences to adopt online channels.

Harminder Sahni, Founder, Wazir Advisors, said respondents are eager to visit stores, but highly apprehensive about safety issues. Consumers are expected to gauge the safety measures deployed before initiating shopping again, across any channel.

With lockdown extensions, the cautious index tends to increase, Sahni said, and so does the lag to re-initiate apparel shopping.

Around 74 per cent respondents cited safety as the highest importance for both store visits as well as online shopping.

Large crowds have emerged as the key reason to stay away from malls, for 66 per cent of the respondents across metro and mini-metro cities. While there is a mixed preference of high street format vis-a-vis malls, 48 per cent of respondents said they are skewed towards high street owing to Covid.

More than half the consumers, however, reflect confidence that brands and retailers will take adequate precautions before restarting activities. Safety has also ceded delivery speed as the first and highest priority, according to the study, with 72 per cent respondents re-balancing parameters for online channel engagement.

Published on June 08, 2020

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