How Has COVID-19 Changed Fashion & Shopping Habits?
The covid pandemic has definitely changed the way that we all live, work and shop. From a focus on more casual wear like sweatsuits through to shopping online, here’s how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our fashion habits.
Increase In Online Shopping
Online shopping has been increasing year upon year, as people demand more convenience and choice in what they buy and wear. Even before the pandemic, more traditional fashion manufacturers and retailers were finding a combination of supply chains, rising rental costs and the costs of staffing these retail stores.
During the pandemic, more traditional retailers needed to pivot to an online offering as they weren’t able to offer the in-store experience. Customers also spent more online as they couldn’t shop in-store but potentially had more time on their hands. For some people, online shopping became a focus.
Physical Stores Closing
Stores that couldn’t pivot to online shopping (or couldn’t do it quickly enough) found it difficult to compete. This has seen more stores closing across the entire retail industry - even large big-brand stores who have found that a drop in footfall has made the business unsustainable in the long term.
Smaller stores have had to absorb the cost of additional social distancing and hygiene measures for customers, along with staff shortages and time off, which has made their business difficult to maintain.
Limits to the number of people in a store at any given time - along with mask restrictions and limited shopping numbers - have also led to customers becoming frustrated with their retail experience, and taking their shopping online. This has been challenging to manage for stores of all sizes.
Focus on Independent Brands
As a result of the pandemic, people are being asked to shop with independent retailers to support the economy, save jobs and focus on sustainability. Despite a challenging retail landscape, there are initiatives and support for small start ups in a bid to revive and rethink the way that we live, work and shop.
Against a backdrop of large retailers mistreating staff, paying low wages and risking the health of their teams to gain profit, many people are choosing to be more conscious in the way that they purchase items.
As bars, clubs and restaurants aren’t quite back to normal yet - and many people are still working from home or hybrid working - there’s more of a focus on casual chic. Loungewear, sweatpants and comfortable clothing boomed at the height of the pandemic, and this isn’t going anywhere just yet. Shoppers are throwing away the formality and looking for a simpler approach to their wardrobe, instead of worrying about full glam (at least not all of the time).
As people get more back into travel, swimwear and summer clothing is starting to grow too. As the events industry starts to come back to life, it’s likely that the opposite end of the scale will grow too with flamboyant wedding outfits, beautiful ornate clubwear and rich, opulent fabrics.
Brands That Started In The Pandemic Might Have To Pivot
As people explored their free time in the pandemic, new businesses began - especially in fashion and beauty. Some of these businesses may have found success in the midst of lockdown restrictions and social distancing orders but may be finding that as the world changes again, they need to change their business too.
Activewear brands, for example, thrived during lockdown but as people return to work and have less time, disposable income and need for gym or exercise clothing they might start to see sales falter. This may need a focus on attracting new customers, a different audience or upping their marketing messaging.
Problems With The Supply Chain
It’s no secret that the pandemic has caused a ton of issues with the supply chain for businesses in every industry. Many fashion brands - particularly those who manufacture overseas - have seen difficulties in getting stock into their stores. Due to global restrictions, staff shortages and shipping delays, getting things from A to B has been much more difficult than in the past.
This has been frustrating for brands and customers, who have had to be far more careful - but also far more fluid - with their expectations.
What’s Next For Fashion?
Whilst the pandemic certainly isn’t over yet, there does seem to be an easing as vaccination programs, milder variants and less restrictions all move forward. It’s likely that fashion and shopping habits will still be disrupted, and that online shopping will continue to grow (and be the first - and only - point of call for many people).
It’s likely that after several years, consumers will start to feel less inclined to accept “the pandemic” as an excuse for delays, poor customer experience or a lack of information. There’s an expectation that businesses will have worked out what they need to by now - but the pandemic is still throwing unexpected situations in here and there. The situation isn’t over, but it’s getting there.