The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Fashion Retail

The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Fashion Retail—-New Data Shows

There was a big blow to retailing businesses at the dawn of the COVID-19 with a negative impact on marketing.

After 18 months of global marketplaces staggering to reach different recovery stages, the data from Edited shows how shopping experience has shifted during the pandemic with what retailers can do to drive sales using their market intelligence.

E-commerce innovation was inspired from stores closing and which has in turn led to a dramatic YoY improvement for KPIs such as dead stock units and average days to ship.

The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Fashion Retail—-New Data Shows


Quarantine and work-from-home lifestyle shifts led nimble retailers and brands to quickly adjust their category mix away from formalwear to comfort dressing as a form of the new normal.

While some brands are restructuring to offer accessible prices, luxury brands continue to get more expensive as investment pieces outpace 2020 and 2019 levels. 

Early pandemic days saw a discounting frenzy, which was not kind to profitability or selling efficiencies. 2021 discounting levels have returned to closely mirror 2019 and are improving on profitability.

Figures coming Accenture show a 160 percent increase in the frequency of digital purchases by those who rarely shopped online at pre-pandemic. Retailers quickly needed to figure out how to move stock into shippable locations, ramp warehouse inventory, expedite shipping and avoid costly split shipments.

As stores closed and consumer demand waned, apparel retailers were left with high inventory levels. In analyzing like-for-like fashion retailers and comparing April 2021 to April 2020, the inventory value associated with dead stock is down 38.7 percent. This is due, in part, to increased demand for fashion as vaccinations roll out and consumers shed their loungewear.

Beyond minimizing dead stock, fashion retailers and brands have seen their warehouse investments pay off with a 21.4 percent reduction in the average days to ship. These are all very healthy signals for an industry that was forced to innovate its supply chain and reduce its assortment to merchandise stronger selling items.


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In August 2020, McKinsey & Company reported global consumers expected more mindful shopping and a pullback on spending across key retail categories such as apparel, footwear, home furnishings, skincare and makeup. Groceries, home entertainment and household supplies were to be the beneficiaries of this shift in demand.

The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Fashion Retail

Also, nimble fashion retailers and brands had to resort to new WFH trends and virtual engagement by putting much focus on casual wear following the inadvertent halt of social gathering and corporate events. Unsurprisingly, sleep wear, active wear and lounge wear emerged as category saviors.

However, as vaccine distribution increases and quarantine restrictions get relaxed by governments, data from Edited show consumers embracing pre-pandemic categories, seen by a growing demand for high heels, swimwear and blazers. Already the Spring 2022 collections are looking radically different than a year ago, and early sales data is showing positive signs of recovery.

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