Feb 16, 2021
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UK should prepare for spending boom, fashion will get a slice of the cake - report

Feb 16, 2021

The UK needs to prepare for a spending boom once restrictions on consumer behaviour are loosened, according to a new report, and fashion will be among the beneficiaries. 

Consumers are keen to get out and to spend once lockdown is over - Photo: Public domain/Pixabay

Property consultant CACI’s consumer research has found that shoppers have plenty of pent-up desire to purchase and the cash to do it as well. That comes after a year in which they've either been told to stay home or have been nervous about going into physical shops when they were allowed out. 

The report comes on the back of the feel-good factor generated by a fast and apparently successful vaccine rollout that's causing Covid cases to decline, along with deaths from the disease. And with suggestions that foreign holidays might still be off the agenda this year, It means much of the spending will happen in the UK. 

CACI surveyed consumers in January, when the vaccine rollout was gathering pace, but before the impact of the virus has started to lessen, so the suggestion is that consumer sentiment might be even more positive at the moment given the pandemic statistics that have been emerging in recent days. 

The company said 74% of consumers’ finances have improved or stayed the same as a result of the pandemic with a general net increase in income across all consumer groups.

So what did the survey tell us about actual spending? Some 30% of consumers plan to revisit a big life event they’ve been putting off. That means things like buying a car and buying their own home. But they’ll be shopping for fashion too. The resumption of ‘normal’ life and a general willingness to spend should translate into a need and a desire to buy new clothes. That could especially be the case given that many consumers haven’t bought clothing and accessories for social events, work events or other activities located out of the home for almost a year.

Consumers have been preserving their cash for most of that time and at present, the number of people on reduced salaries is half of what it was in the first lockdown while the number of people on furlough is down by a third. Importantly, 15% of consumers plan to treat themselves to a more expensive holiday this year (even if it has to be in the UK) and that means they’’ll likely be buying new holiday clothing.

But there’s no getting away from the fact that the consumers who emerge from lockdown in the next couple of months are quite different people to those who went into it in March 2020.

CACI said they're very safety-focused and even with a vaccine, they want to see active social distancing and more personal space. Some 88% of respondents want to feel safe in stores, up from 59% in September last year, and 55% of respondents would like to see safety precautions in place “forever”.

There’s also a spotlight on brand ethics. Brands “must be transparent and socially conscious, or risk reputational damage,” we’re told.  For 67% of respondents, the contribution a brand makes to overcoming the global challenge will affect where they spend their money. This compares to 16% of respondents in September 2020.

And the buying-more-online habit is here to stay. “To be successful, shopping malls and retailers need to be omnichannel,” CACI said.  While one in five consumers plans to shift their fashion shopping online, which could be interpreted as bad news for fashion retailers, there’s an upside as an equal number plans to spend more in-store on clothing.

Consumers have also reconnected with the local areas and this needs to be reflected by the brands they buy and the places they visit, CACI said.

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