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Record online clothes sales defy cost of living crisis

Shoppers defied the cost of living crisis to hit online clothes shops at record levels through the first half of 2023 as, according to analysis of the ONS’ retail sales data from global circularity experts Reconomy.

The data revealed that the value of average weekly online sales at textile, clothing and footwear stores reached a record £1.71 billion in H1 2023.

It marked an increase from £1.58 billion in the second half of 2022 and surpassed the previous all-time high average weekly sales of £1.67 billion in H1 2021 following the surge of online shopping driven by the pandemic.

Further analysis of the ONS’ figures also revealed that over 11p of every £1 spent online (11.6%) was at textile, clothing and footwear stores demonstrating the importance the sector as a driver of e-commerce growth.

Claire Webb, Managing Director of Advanced Supply Chain at Reconomy, commented: “The steady growth of internet shopping was turbo-charged through the pandemic as the high street was forced to roll down its shutters and serve its customers online leading to a surge in average weekly sales.  

“These trends now look to have become embedded in shopper behaviour as despite the cost of living crisis squeezing budgets, average weekly sales accelerate to their highest ever level through the first six months of the year.”

Webb continued: “The shift to online poses challenges for fashion for brands and changes the cost of ownership, shifting price points and pressures from bricks, mortar and warehouses to an increasingly fluid supply chain spanning global export centres and deployment centres.

“This transition means retailers and fashion brands increasingly need to demonstrate the sustainability of their supply chains and materials. Clothes need to be transported efficiently to maximise the efficiency of logistics, returns are processed sustainably and textiles are either recycled or reused. With customers becoming more and more conscious over where and how they shop, ESG is core to fashion brands’ commercial aims.”