Shopping in the fashion industry: stores still preferred over digital

Cyril Blondel
Posted on 01 March 2021 by Cyril Blondel
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Like many other sectors, the fashion sector is experiencing a sharp drop in sales amid the Covid-19 crisis, and the start of 2021 is seeing this trend continue, with a 20% drop in turnover in January1. While the textile market is going through a difficult period, here are a few insights into consumers’ expectations against this backdrop, as well as the customer experiences that appeal most to them.

“Can do better” in terms of digitalisation

The current crisis has transformed the relationship between consumers and commerce by accelerating digital practices. There has been a surge in e-commerce – with click & collect or delivery – in many sectors that have been affected by health restrictions. However, a Dalenys/OpinionWay2 survey highlights that there are key differences in perception depending on the sector, as French consumers identify disparities in terms of digitalisation.

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The household appliances sector comes first in terms of the perceived level of digitalisation (with 80% of those surveyed perceiving it as being at an “advanced” stage of digitalisation). On the other hand, the clothing sector’s digitalisation is regarded as “advanced” by 68% of the French (similarly to the toy, DIY, personal hygiene, cosmetics and healthcare product sector). Is this a sign that there is still a long way to go to fully meet consumer expectations?

The store is still held in high regard

The spending patterns themselves are also quite revealing: in the fashion sector, a majority of consumers prefer in-store purchases over online ones (47% in-store vs. 32% online). This is not the case in all sectors however: in the toy or household appliance sector, French consumers prefer e-commerce for their purchases (35% online vs. 31% in-store for toys; 35% online vs. 29% in-store for household appliances). Therefore, the physical point of sale is still an important place to which consumers feel attached for this type of product: be it clothing or footwear, it is nice to see the products and, of course, try them on before buying.

French people's purchasing intentions, by sector
Purchases planned within 6 weeks, depending on the sales channel

The desire to go to the shops is greater among the over-60s. Conversely, young people and families (those surveyed who have a child at home) make more use of online shopping. This confirms a fairly logical trend, as ultra-connected young people and families look to save time.

Perhaps more surprisingly, while men and women are equally likely to consider going to the shop to buy clothes or footwear (47% for each gender), there is a difference for online shopping: 35% of women want to shop online, compared to just 28% of men. The type of conurbation also plays a role in buying intentions: Paris proves unique in this regard as it is where consumers have highest proclivity to buy online (40%).

The fashion sector is shining light on a strong trend that seems to be taking hold: the digitalisation of the retail sector is above all a question of the digitalisation of points of sale. As Fevad’s “e-commerce 2020 summary” shows, omnichannel brands made the most progress last year in France (combining all sectors) with earnings of 53% (and peaks of +100% during the lockdowns) compared to 11% for pure-players alone.

1 source: Textile and clothing consumption summary – January 2021 – Alliance du Commerce
2 OpinionWay survey for Dalenys “Digitalisation of commerce: French expectations for 2021” carried out on 25 and 26 November 2020.

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