The Reality of Retailing During COVID-19

April 24, 2020 268 min reading

The coronavirus outbreak has had a global impact, affecting every industry in some way. As everyone learns to adapt, it is important to face the challenges head on and adjust where possible in order to save businesses and keep industries moving.

The retail industry in particular is suffering, with the demand for fashion declining as we spend longer in lockdown. In the first 2 weeks of the UK’s lockdown, retail sales fell by 27% as the nation begins wearing their favourite loungewear sets and pyjamas on rotation.

Consumer behaviour has changed which means the fashion industry had to change with it. In our latest blog, we look at the reality of retail during this strange time and what impact it is having.

The impact on retailers

As the likes of Oasis and Warehouse are the latest to fall into administration, and Debenhams appoints administrators to try and save its stores, it truly is a difficult time for the fashion industry.

Firms such as Primark, Peacocks, Arcadia and Next have all reduced or stopped the number of deliveries to their warehouses. While many brands are able to continue trading online, some fashion houses have even been forced to close those operations because of difficulties in protecting workers. Primark have furloughed  68,000 staff, as the high street store sales plunge to zero from £650 million a month due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Fashion retailers are bracing themselves for a big shake-up as consumers are buying less and buying differently. The likes of the beauty sector, electricals and home & garden have all experience an increase in sales, while clothing has dropped.

Retailer challenges

There is no way of knowing how long we will be experiencing these strange circumstances Retailers are suffering in a number of ways, presenting challenges that businesses need to try and tackle.

Unemployment is becoming a problem across the world, with workplaces feeling a big impact as staff begin to be furloughed or put on leave. This has led many retailers needing to turn stock into cash. Many retailers have huge amounts of stock in their warehouses that are not being sold as fast as usual. This is why you might see so many sales on at the moment when browsing online.

Future styles for upcoming seasons have been heavily impacted too. Orders from the majority of retailers for SS20 and even AW20 were either cancelled, held or ordered with reduced quantities. Sales are now however driven online, so this has lead to some cash being injected into these retailers to purchase ‘lockdown favourites’ such as loungewear.

The way brands invest in new trends will change for the foreseeable. Previously, brands would stock up ahead of time and ensure they have seasonal clothing much earlier. However, retailers may now have to adopt just-in-time purchasing from manufacturers and wholesalers to avoid having too much stock that isn’t selling.

How we can help

At Whispering Smith, we have a number of retail services that can enable you to bring in the right stock at the right moment. We have ready-to-go collection of both men’s and women’s clothing, that can help you capitalise on unforeseen key sellers that your buyers are genuinely interested in.

We can help you fill your range using in-season trends from our stock, adding your brand logo through our re-branding facilities. So, even if your customers are only on the lookout for tracksuits, you can be right there waiting.

The author of this article is Anna Marianna White

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