More than 70% (71.4%) of consumers consider the environmental impacts of their choice of food and grocery retailers and products, according to data and analytics firm GlobalData’s latest consumer survey (Sept 2018). This falls to 64.2% for clothing and footwear, but demonstrates that nonfood retailers must also make changes to minimize their impact on the environment while clearly communicating their commitment to shoppers.
Emily Salter, retail analyst at GlobalData, comments, “Since the BBC’s Blue Planet documentary series showed the devastating effects that the sheer volume of plastic waste has on marine life bringing the issue to the forefront of consumers’ minds, grocers have had to react and make changes.’’
Many major retailers have announced plastic reduction plans in an attempt to show consumers their concern for the environment.
Many major retailers have announced plastic reduction plans in an attempt to show consumers their concern for the environment—for instance, Morrisons will introduce paper bags for loose fruit and vegetables, and Lidl will stop using unrecyclable black plastic packaging.
Salter continues, ‘‘Although the retail industry’s impact on the environment goes far beyond the use of plastic, this data indicates that the recent heightened awareness is likely to have contributed to the high level of consumers considering environmental impacts.’’
One reason fewer consumers consider the environment when buying clothing and footwear may be a lack of awareness and scarcity of more sustainable, yet affordable, options apart from a small number of in-house lines such as H&M’s Conscious Collection.
Consumers are less in tune with the sourcing, processing, and packaging of non-food products, as most items are presented packaging-free, with the exception of online orders. Though some retailers, such as H&M and Marks & Spencer, have well-established clothing recycling schemes, there is little information about the environmental impacts of the sector, and these schemes are insufficient to make sustainable choices more widely available.
Salter adds, ‘‘Fewer clothing and footwear retailers are making firm commitments to sustainability in comparison to grocers, despite the majority of consumers stating that they consider the environment when purchasing clothing & footwear. In a competitive market as the environment becomes a bigger priority, retailers’ must make their stance on sustainability clearer to the customer.’’