New Office of National Statistics (ONS) retail figures reveal a 39.1% YOY increase in online textile, clothing and footwear sales, compared to September last year.
As new innovations from Amazon and ASOS continue to boost the fashion and footwear market, the e-commerce fulfilment expert Fastlane International says local indie High Street stores can't hope to compete, and more national chains are likely to fail.
September's ONS retail sales saw online fashion and shoe sales take a 16.5% share of the entire retail sales market (including food sales). Fastlane's Head of Consumer Research David Jinks MILT says: 'The onslaught on clothing stores is growing faster than even many experts imagined. In 2013 there was a net loss of 264 fashion stores from our High Street and that trend has continued to build. The online fashion industry could reach £36.2bn by 2030: 63% of the market compared to today's 21%. '
These are huge numbers, says David. 'In the UK alone, we spent £57.7bn on shoes and fashion annually – and online sales look set to grab the lion's share of the market before long. This year alone we saw the end of American Apparel, discount shoe store Brantano and even Jaeger went into administration. Barratts and Dolcis succumbed earlier to pressure from online shoe sales, while the recent roll-call of fashion store carnage includes Austin Reed, Country Casuals, Jane Norman, Banana Republic, Bank, Kookai, Morgan and Pilot, amongst others.'
Why is this happening? David explains: 'Not only is it easy to shop online, but no quibble returns rules give online retailers an advantage over High Street stores – which are only legally required to give a refund if there is a problem with the item. And online stores can respond to new fashion trends far faster than physical stores, which must order their stock for the season far in advance.'
David concludes: 'Today's ONS figures may only be the tip of the iceberg. UK fashion stores are bracing themselves for the arrival of Amazon Prime Wardrobe, which lets shoppers try before they buy, return unwanted items without charge; and buy on free, easy terms. High Street clothing stores are rapidly becoming fashion victims and more will fail if they don't get their brick and click balance right and improve their online offering.'