How COVID-19 has changed Fashion Retail

The Pandemic has most certainly changed our shopping habits. With stores in Ireland being closed for so long due to the many lockdowns, almost everyone has had to shift to online shopping. For some this may already have been the norm, but for many it was the necessary push they needed to make the switch to online shopping. However, is this the only change to shopping habits in fashion? And what can we expect to remain after the pandemic ends?

Fashion during the pandemic:

According to the global PwC study, consumers across the world have started shopping more conscientiously. Notably, weighing up the environmental, social and governance (ESG) implications of their purchases.

Customers are showing signs about wanting to know where their product came from, preferences for eco-friendly packaging, as well as other factors which affect the sustainability of their purchases.

In fashion, and in Ireland especially, this has been a big driver in the growth of reselling platforms such as Depop, which have seen massive growth since March last year. Although the trend for buying second hand clothes existed before the onset of lockdowns, it has certainly accelerated the pace of change of consumer behaviour.

how COVID has changed fashion retail

Depop is a peer-to-peer shopping app, which allows users to buy and sell clothing, shoes, and other accessories. The app charges a 10% flat rate fee on all items sold, and it allows users to follow their favourite sellers, leave reviews, and even negotiate prices. It currently has around 26 million users, and according to its website it has seen a triple-digit year-on-year growth in items sold.

Beside individual users selling their personal items of clothing, the app has also seen many small businesses taking to the app to boost their sales during the pandemic. Vintage shops across the country have launched Depop pages to attract new customers and for some it may even have been what saved them from shutting down.

Fashion retail

What’s in store for the future?

Seeing such a change in consumer demand for more sustainable products has been one of the positive impacts for the fashion retail industry which will hopefully remain after the pandemic. However, what is to be expected for in-store shopping?

The PwC report indicates that, even though online shopping is still increasing steadily, most consumers have indicated that they still intend to shop in store. The reaction in Ireland to the lifting of restrictions on essential retail just this week was testament to this.

The demand for Penneys was so high that within days of opening their online booking system, over 250,000 bookings were made and some were even seen for sale on Done Deal and Facebook marketplace for up to 100€. A TikTok video even went viral, showing a girl ‘sneaking’ into the store without an appointment by getting her hands on a Penneys staff t-shirt.

This comes to show that even with changes in consumer demand for sustainable fashion choices, consumers in Ireland are still eager to get their fix from the Irish fast-fashion brand.

All in all, the pandemic seems to have accelerated certain market trends, such as a shift to online shopping and a preference for sustainable choices. However, the recent lift in restrictions is proof that old habits die hard and people are unlikely to change their shopping habits completely any time soon.

Nicole Hennessy
Nicole Hennessy

I'm a 2nd year student at Trinity College Dublin studying Politics and Sociology, who loves traveling, good food, and reading.

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