According to a report from consumer experience platform True Fit, despite a slowdown in December, UK online fashion retailers had a strong Golden Quarter. Digital fashion sales in December were up by 8% compared to the previous year, and online fashion checkouts saw an 8% increase for the entire three-month peak trading period. The average order value also saw a 7% increase from the previous year.

True Fit’s Fashion Genome, which analyzes data from thousands of retail brands and millions of active members, revealed that digital browsing peaked early in the season as consumers aimed to avoid supply chain disruptions and potential shipping delays. This resulted in a more significant boost in sales during the Black Friday/Cyber 5 period compared to previous years. Web traffic volumes throughout the peak trading period were on average 37% higher year-on-year, with online order volumes increasing by 10% in October and 8% in November compared to 2020.

However, both digital fashion sales and web traffic declined in December, with a 35% and 121% month-on-month decrease respectively. True Fit suggests that this could be due to consumers making early purchases during Black Friday or holding off on new online apparel buys due to uncertainty surrounding Covid restrictions ahead of Christmas. The announcement of Plan B restrictions in early December led many businesses in the UK to cancel Christmas parties, and consumers limited their pre-Christmas socializing to avoid the risk of infection or isolation. As a result, there was a significant decrease in Christmas trade for the hospitality industry.

Despite the dip in web traffic and sales in December, web visits to fashion retailer sites were still 30% higher than in 2020, indicating sustained demand for digital fashion. Additionally, there was a 13% increase in demand for online fit guidance during the peak trading period compared to the previous year, even though physical stores were fully open.

Sarah Curran Usher, GM EMEA at True Fit, predicts that online fashion sales will surpass High Street revenues next year, marking a significant shift in consumer preferences and buying behaviors towards e-commerce. As online channels continue to gain popularity, retailers and brands must focus on building confidence among shoppers in evaluating brands and products digitally. They should also leverage data to better understand consumer preferences and returns behavior.

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