Retailers and brands have their work cut out for them in the U.K. Brits are showing signs of wanting to buy less and spend less.
When asked about their intentions for January, 19.2% of U.K. consumers said they planned to spend less than average on retail products, according to a newly released survey by research firm GlobalData.
“A worrying 48.9% of these consumers said they are making a conscious effort to buy less stuff,” says Sofie Willmott, lead retail analyst at GlobalData. “Although some shoppers will struggle to keep up this mindful mentality past January, the shift away from spending on non-essential retail products is set to continue throughout the year as consumers prioritize spend on holidays, activities, and meals out, and especially as sustainability concerns seep into their consciences.”
With consumers more mindful of sustainability, the easiest way they can reduce their impact on the environment is by not buying anything new, she explains. “Buying second hand items or reducing the number of clothing and footwear products they purchase is a win-win for consumers focused on spending their disposable income wisely while acting in a sustainable way, but these shifting shopping habits will not help struggling retailers in what is already a challenging and highly competitive trading landscape,” she adds.
Warning signs were evident in Primark’s Q1 results; a marginal decline in U.K. like-for-like sales suggest that volume growth will be difficult for clothing retailers to achieve this year. To thrive in testing times, retailers must provide transparency in their supply chains. After years of building a production process that sought to provide fast fashion at accessible prices, transforming existing practices into an environmentally sustainable operation won’t be easy. But retailers should clearly convey the steps they are taking, GlobalData maintains.
“A brand’s positive environmental stance must be communicated through aspects that customers can interact with,” Willmott says. She cites three examples:
- & Other Stories offers 10% off a purchase to customers who bring back an empty beauty container.
- H&M provides a £5 voucher (for a purchase of £25 or more) to those who donate a bag of clothes.
- Reformation gives customers the option to purchase climate credits to offset carbon emissions.
Mintel found similar indications – see story