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How the Pandemic Has Changed How We Shop for Clothes

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By Sponsor

1 Feb 2021

Retail

With more of us turning to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic, consumer spending habits are moving away from traditional retail.

The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world and prompted changes in online shopping behaviors that are likely to last. With many still working from home for the foreseeable future, businesses are adapting to new trends and habits, from customers investing more in casualwear, to retailers adding more personalized shopping experiences.

1. No Dressing Room Access

Social distancing and closed stores have had a massive impact, and one of the most noticeable changes is the inability to try clothing on in store.

With many retailers facing this challenge, and customers having to return clothing that is unsuitable, fashion brands are looking for answers. One solution is virtual dressing rooms like Zyler.

Zyler is an online clothing try-on tool available as a plug-in to retailers, where customers can digitally try-on outfits by uploading a selfie and entering a few measurements. Customers also have the option to create a Zyler account, which acts as a passport to try-on across any participating website.

2. Retail Therapy

While the clothing sector as a whole has suffered, those with a strong online presence have weathered the storm.

ASOS for example, has attributed its staggering 329% rise in profits down to sales of affordable loungewear pieces. As an online-only brand, the retailer is in the position to weather the pandemic and its after-effects, this is evident in the brand’s interest in saving the Topshop flagship.

With all of the Covid-19 measures in place, the fun has been sucked out of shopping, and retailers need to adapt to keep things interesting. Customers haven't stopped spending, but most of it is going online, and this influence is likely to push those competitors to invest more in building up their digital operations.

3. Demand for Casual Wear

People are investing more in casual and gym apparel, and businesses selling these items have seen a huge boost, with some such as Boohoo offering specialized features and collections of loungewear and “Stay at Home” or “Work from Home” ensembles. Most people in white-collar jobs are now working from home, with a newfound love of sweatpants that some experts expect to outlive the pandemic.

With retailers missing out on the Christmas party boom last year, sales of heels and other dress shoes have been declining for years and the pandemic has turbocharged their demise. Sales of men’s and women’s dress shoes plunged 70 % in March and April, according to NPD. According to onefourzero Group, the search demand for “men’s suiting” saw a 79% drop from March to June 2020. Clothing related directly to events, such as festival outfits, saw an even steeper decline of 152% as there was mass cancellations of festivals across the UK.

However, some retailers such as Missguided and River Island have decided to go down the empowering route of “dressing up for me”, which, while keeping more formal wear items selling, will appeal to the younger selfie generation who still want to post photos of themselves looking good.

4. Demand for Personalized Shopping

As well as an expansion in loungewear departments, there has also been an increase in the demand for personalized clothing services. Many companies are questioning how to remain relevant in a pandemic-dominated landscape. Whether this takes the form of online personal styling, or the ability to try clothes on online, consumers want unique experiences when cooped up at home.

Most retailers’ websites tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach which is not likely to work for much longer. With the pandemic sparking a shopping revolution, retailers must personalize the customer journey. By adding new technology such as online try-on to a website, customers not only can begin to feel more engaged with the product, but they are also presented with something new to do with their time rather than just browsing items as usual. This is especially important at a time where shopping for clothes feels less personal than ever.