Online Fashion: Unpicking the key trends

The UK is increasingly becoming a computer literate and online society.   Vast changes in computer use and surfing habits are occurring as technology, infrastructure and increasing generational access continue to grow.   More and more

Unpicking figures from the Office of National Statistics households and individuals survey gives us some striking messages on how the future is being shaped and how fashion marketers can be using these trends to their advantage.

Daily computer use rises and the older generations are getting more IT savvy…

The Office of National Statistics reports 38 million adults over 16 or 73 per cent of the population aged over 16 used a computer on a daily basis, an increase from 45 per cent in 2006.

Most interestingly, has been the huge rise in daily computer use by older generations. Those aged 55-64 have seen usage almost double whereas the 65+ age group is now almost five times more likely to use a computer daily than in 2006.

Daily Computer use

How clothing sales drive internet purchases

Clothing has become a key driver of shopping habits online as the industry adapts to new consumer habits. Interestingly, clothing lagged behind all sales until 2011 with 2014 seeing sustained growth in online sales. Compared to 2009, sales are three times greater.

Internet retail sales

49 per cent of adults made a clothing or sporting good purchase on the internet in 2014 (up from 47% in 2013). This is a greater than any other type of online purchase made.

In short, online sales and the exploitation of the technology needed to change the picture have transformed the entire supply chain. Retail with new models and channels for sales, personified by the rise of companies such as ASOS and the increasingly savvy online offerings of traditional high street stores have revolutionised how the UK shops. This trend is also applicable for manufacturers for whom selling direct from source has become an become increasingly a more viable option and who’s sales models are changing accordingly.

Importantly, having an online presence and developing the narrative behind the goods are major factors in pushing brands forward.

Adults buying on the internet

And the silver surfer is getting savvy at online fashion purchasing…

In terms of age groups, there has been an interesting pattern emerge of those who purchased clothing and sports goods online. Whilst has been upward trends in all age-groups (apart from interestingly in the 25-34 category) in the past year, consolidating the huge rises in 2012, the most significant again has come in the 65+ age group with just under a fifth using the internet to make fashion or sporting purchases.

Purchases by age

…and females remain more likely to purchase fashion online…

Looking at the figures by gender shows how both genders continue to increase purchasing online. 46 per cent of men and 52 per cent all females over 16 made internet clothing and sporting goods purchases in the past year.

Gender of buyers

Implications for online channels – mobile internet access continues to rise!

The data also allows us to look at how individuals access online. 68 per cent of adults now have on-the-go internet access.   Again, it is the older age demographics that have seen a proliferation in access to these devices.

Unsurprisingly, it is the younger generations who are most likely to have access to these technologies whilst males are far more likely than females to be able to access internet on the go with seven per cent more doing so.

Access to portable

Therefore the big question remains, to what extent can fashion and textiles retailers and manufacturers ensure firstly, they are available online and secondly, that they are able to target the demographics with their current and evolving habits of online usage?


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