Today in Retail Highlights: Fashion Retail in Europe

Today in Retail Highlights: Fashion Retail in Europe

January 23, 2024

In this blog series, Mintel reviews the latest retailer marketing and innovations, including new store openings, online developments, new concepts or category launches. For this month’s highlight, our retail experts weigh in on three exciting developments in the European fashion retailer market.

Europe: Inditex sees profits and sales soar due to autumn and winter collections

The multinational clothing company Inditex has continued to see rising sales and profit during 2023, highlighting its main fashion brand Zara as one of the winning retailers of 2023. Zara’s focus on improved digital stores with a convenient self-checkout, as well as a mobile app that seamlessly links the in-store and online, allowing shoppers to check for stock, pre-book a fitting room and click and collect within two hours, has been one of the key cornerstones of its success. Mintel’s recently published Clothing Retailing – UK – 2023 shows that Zara has seen a surge in its customer base in the last year, with a big rise in Millennials and Gen Zs shopping there, with these young consumers showing a preference for hopping between online and in-store channels when buying fashion.

However, it is worth noting that Inditex has reported a slowdown in growth in the three months to the end of October 2023, with sales only increasing by 6.6%, compared with double-digit growth during the same period in the last two years. While the fashion sector has benefited from consumers continuing to treat themselves to new outfits for socialising and holidays in the first half of the year, the uncertain economic outlook may be starting to dampen spending and lead to a diminished appetite for new fashion purchases.”

France: Size? reopens its Parisian boutique 

Size?, the sports and lifestyle brand owned by JD Sports, continues the rollout of its new concept stores across the UK and Europe, with the latest store open in Paris. The new store is a reopening of Rue Berger in Les Halles, and follows the concept that was unveiled in some of the Size? stores in the UK at the beginning of the year. The new design includes several digital installations, including transactional kiosks allowing customers to purchase the extensive Size? online, as well as a digital screen on both floors.

Spanning over 160 sq m, the store offers a range of men’s clothing and shoes “from some of the most coveted brands in streetwear” including Nike, Salomon, Adidas Originals and The North Face.

Our 2021 report, Footwear Retailing – France found that sports shops were the most popular place to buy footwear in France and our forthcoming report Clothing Retailing – France found the channel was the second most popular place to buy clothing (34% of French consumers had shopped for clothing at sports retailer in the last 12 months, surpassed only by the grocery channel at 38%). Decathlon, Go Sport and Intersport are the leading retailers in this channel in France, and they have benefited from the increased demand for casualwear during the pandemic, and the more general trend over the last few years towards a more casualization of society and the workplace.

Mintel research found that Gen Z are the most likely to shop at a sports goods store (39%) for clothing, highlighting the importance of targeting this demographic. This Size? store does this, with a variety of digital tools to enhance omnichannel shopping, also delivering a range of services and the all important “experiences” to tempt shoppers into stores. 

UK: Bershka launches virtual fitting rooms to cut returns and boost online sales

Bershka has partnered with AI-powered virtual fitting room platform 3DLOOK as it looks to reduce return rates and offer a more “seamless online shopping experience”. The rollout of the virtual try-on service is hoped to “eliminate the fit and sizing guesswork” and boost ecommerce sales.

Accessible on all mobile devices and laptops, the service asks customers to take two photos – front and side views. Powered by artificial intelligence, a voice assistant guides customers through the process, ensuring optimal posing for accurate results. The 3D mapping technology of 3DLOOK – YourFit, combined with its advanced size recommendation system, delivered immediate advice on the most suitable size while creating a realistic and accurate virtual fitting experience.

Source: YourFit by 3DLOOK

With both sizing and the rate of returns being two major issues within the fashion sector, AI tools such as this one introduced by Bershka should prove successful and encourage investment by other retailers in similar tools to help consumers when shopping online. One of the main barriers to buying fashion items online is the difficulty with judging an item’s fit, particularly for women, with more than 6 out of ten female online shoppers citing this as an issue, as outlined in Mintel’s Fashion & Technology market report. Mintel research also shows that almost half of online shoppers agree that it would be helpful for retailers to use size recommendations tools, with the likes of Bershka’s latest virtual fitting room catering to that demand. Issues with fit and sizing lead consumers to return their items, so finding the correct size the first time around can benefit both retailers and consumers, and reduce costs. The ‘see how it fits me’ widget should also prove popular with Bershka’s core customer – Gen Zs are most likely to struggle to visualise whether an item will suit them when buying online.

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