Ahead of London Fashion Week (12-16 September 2014), latest research from Mintel finds fashion e-commerce pushing all the right buttons with British shoppers, as new research sees sales of UK clothing and footwear topping the £10 billion mark. This year sales of online fashion will increase an impressive 14.5% to reach £10.7 billion in 2014. Today, online sales account for approximately 17% of total spending on clothing and footwear, up from 13% in 2011. While the growth rate in online fashion sales has slowed from a high of 19% in 2012 and will gradually slow as a consequence of a maturing market, the forecast for the market remains strong with sales expected to reach £19 billion by 2019.

Tamara Sender, Senior Fashion Analyst said:

‘The market for online fashion continues to see robust growth as consumers become more accustomed to shopping online. Increased participation in shopping via smartphones and tablets has helped to bolster sales as consumers look to shop for clothes anytime and anywhere.’

‘Today’s Brits are increasingly moving between devices when shopping online, as well as using mobile devices to help them shop whilst in-store. As consumers combine different channels to shop for clothes, retailers have to ensure that shopping is truly seamless and that they give customers a consistent shopping experience whatever channel they choose to use.’

Clothing & footwear tops internet shopping list

Today as many as seven in ten (70%) internet users buy clothing and footwear online, making clothing and footwear the most purchased item online. Online purchasing peaks among the younger 25 to 34 year olds (80%) and the 16 to 24 age group (76%). And while women are keenest to click and shop (73%), there has been a significant increase in the proportion of men shopping for fashion online in the last year, jumping 13 percentage points to 65% of men in 2014. What is more, as many as 30% of all online shoppers say that shopping online for clothes is so convenient that they rarely shop for clothes in store any more. Overall, some 28% of consumers now shop more for clothes online than in-store, a 2 percentage-point increase since 2013. And while 19% of consumers have neither browsed or purchased clothes online, there remains a core group of consumers (12%) who choose to use the internet purely as a browsing facility.

Desktops and laptops are shoppers favourites but mobiles grow in popularity

While the majority of people still use their laptops or desktop computers to browse and purchase clothing (86% of those who have purchased clothes online), e-shopping behaviour is changing and more Brits than ever are using mobile devices (13%). Tablets are becoming increasingly popular both for browsing and buying with 20% of online shoppers purchasing clothing via a tablet in the last 12 months. Over two fifths (44%) of consumers have click-and-collected clothes in the last 12 months. Men (43%) are now almost as likely as women (45%) to have click-and-collected clothes bought online, a trend which has changed since last year when use of the service was skewed towards females.

“Convenience-seeking consumers see click-and-collect as the fastest and cheapest way of receiving items reserved or purchased online. Savvy retailers are beginning to recognise the value and importance of click-and-collect and are turning these into areas in their stores where customers can relax on a sofa and have a coffee while waiting for their items. It is now more important than ever for retailers to ensure that the process is a seamless online and in-store experience, which leaves the customer wanting to order again.” comments Tamara.

Discount codes are favourite with women

Two fifths (41%) of women have used an online discount code or voucher when buying clothes online, but this drops to less than a third (32%) of men. One fifth (21%) of under-35s have used their smartphone to help them shop for clothing and to look for price comparisons, offers and reviews whilst in-store as the distinction between shopping in-store and online becomes more blurred. However, whilst women lead the way with discount codes, men are almost twice as likely (10%) as women (6%) to have used a retailer’s social media site to deal with customer service issues.

A third of Brits want to be able to return goods to a store

Returns remain one of the main barriers to buying clothes online and over a third (34%) of women therefore prefer to be able to return their online order to an actual store. Consumers aged 25-34 (23%) and parents with young children aged under-five (27%) are the most likely to struggle to find clothes to fit when buyingonline, compared to an average of 17% of internet shoppers.

“One of the main barriers to shopping online for clothes is fit and it is still a category where consumers like to try on and see items in person. However, trust in a retailer where they already shop and previous experience of their clothes sizes makes it easier for them to migrate online. This benefits multichannel retailers and means that pureplays have to work hard to gain trust and loyalty from customers.” concludes Tamara.

Mintel’s Fashion Online report is available to purchase priced £1750.

Press review copies of the report and interviews with Tamara Sender are available on request from the press office. 

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