Forever 21 and ‘Disposable Fashion’
To some retail is going through an apocalypse. For those in it, especially the workforce a catastrophe as shops are shut or bankruptcies announced. But whilst trends are changing, there is still the reality that retailers problems are quite complex, especially when they are dusted across different countries. As companies have gone to the wall, or posted lower than expected profits, many mouthpieces for those businesses have used ‘easy excuses’ including the rise of retail purchases made online.
Would it interest you to know that according to the Office of National Statistics just less than 20% of overall spend was made online, which means that 80% is still made in stores?
Yes things are changing relatively quickly, (not as fast as some would lead you to believe), but it seems that executives at the top of businesses are very slow to react to anything and have a sense of arrogance when it comes to their customers.
Saddled with debt, many start trying to rob Peter to pay Paul, they have began to make customers dance to their own timelines rather the natural order of things and thus seem to be making customers do odd things and then when things go wrong, blame the customers for choosing alternatives because they are so confused.
Here’s a great example. Here in the UK our children have a 6 week summer break from mid July through to the beginning of September. Yet retailers start big, “Back to School” promotions 3 weeks BEFORE the children finish for the summer. On the face of it, (and if you haven’t got kids), it’s no big deal but how much can kids grow in 6 weeks? It leaves the parents of the kids that have grown scrabbling around a week prior to their return desperately searching for things that actually fit, (my son grew 4” in a 6 week period) and those that thought they were being smart by buying bigger, desperately digging out last years stuff, because they’ll look like Tom Hanks in BIG. So 2 weeks into that break, the stores have sold out and have replaced it with all things BBQ and end of summer holiday.
Easter eggs being sold 2 weeks BEFORE Christmas. Summer shorts, flip-flops and sunglasses being sold in January and not being able to get any when the sun is actually shining and it’s hot. Christmas being sold in August. Black Friday, which used to be one day are now over an entire month. January sales starting on December 15th. The list goes on.
Brick and Mortar retail has made a huge rod for it’s own back and instead of pausing, stepping back and actually taking some time to work out what the customer wants, they continue to push their timelines, their products and their ranges down peoples throats. They forget a key component of business. “Your business is NOT about you. It just STARTS with you.”
Brick and Mortar stores will need to streamline, need to change their offerings, improve their service, their opening hours AND provide an experience that will make people WANT to go back. That tried and tested old idea called, “What’s in it for me?”
Forever 21, (it has stores here in the Uk also), has been dwarfed by Boohoo and ASOS, but with the rise of fast fashion stores such as Primark, there is still room for ‘fast fashion’ stores. If you take a look at Primark’s website, they are not even set up for ‘Online Purchasing’, but continue to grow through their pile it high, sell it low philosophy. So there must be other reasons that these businesses fail that we are not privy to. And it’s difficult (and unfair) to speculate. But any retailer that doesn’t move quick enough to offer an online solution that is as quick and reliable as Amazon, Boohoo, etc…then the only people they can blame is themselves. Look at ‘Toys R Us’ that tried to ignore the strategy and hope it would go away. Even small independent retailers are taking on the mantle of online shopping. As a strategy it should encourage loyalty and by not offering what a customer REALLY wants, you are playing poker with that customers loyalty to their brand.
There is an increase in demand for sustainable fashion. The demographic that most fashion stores aim their marketing at, are of an age where they are exceptionally ‘switched on’ to the damage that has been caused to the planet, workers rights and fairness. They are aware that things may cost a few dollars or pounds more, but that’s not even a concern if they feel they doing something for the environment and those connected with the product. In turn ‘fast fashion’ will show a decline, but in reality it will just ‘evolve’. It will evolve along the same lines as our coffee, tea, chocolate and food has in the last few years. Manufacturers and businesses have began to understand that where there is a will, there is a way. They also know that they will need to cater to customers where budget is vitally important. So the £2 t-shirt and the Bricks and Mortar stores are here to stay…for now.