Early this year many stores had to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the second wave underway it seems very probable another lockdown may be coming. But in all of this, there was only one winner in the clothing retailing industry. The winner, you guessed right, is FAST FASHION! This is why.
A significant portion of thrift clothing stores are brick-and-mortar stores with less sophistication or capability for any e-commerce platform. Whilst big clothing retailers moved operation online and continued their operations, these local thrift stores were forced to shutdown operations and close. The effect? Well, you guessed right again, fast fashion sales skyrocketed. This contradicted what most experts had expected. With shelter-in-place orders in most part of Europe and North America, people have no places to go to for recreation. Hence, the expectation was that this will dampen demand for fast fashion products. It did not. Bored at home, shoppers turned to e-commerce to satisfy their desire for new clothes. Many fast fashion retailers benefitted greatly from this. Boohoo, an online fast fashion, saw a spike in their sales (about 34%) attributable to online sales. Similar trend was seen in a number of other fast fashion retailers including ASOS, Zalando, etc.
Experts predict that this change to online shopping behaviour is expected to continue even post-coronavirus pandemic. Most shoppers will continue to buy clothes digitally. This also means thrift stores will continue to lose and so would fashion sustainability at least in the near short term. This tide of online shoppers is yet to lift other companies including thrift retailers and clothing resellers. As long as thrift stores continue to operate as brick-and-mortar, online fast fashion may continue to be, for most people, the only option available. This coronavirus pandemic should serve as a stimulus for thrift stores to embrace the e-commerce ecosystem. It is our duty to our customers who want to have the option to wear something and be associated with something they can be proud of.