What Does Christmas 2021 Have in Store for Luxury Fashion?

What a difference a year makes. Christmas of 2020 was one of the most tumultuous periods retail has ever witnessed. Bustling stores with wide-open doors were shut uptight. Stock was severely delayed or simply didn’t arrive as supply chains around the globe were compromised and disrupted. Family plans were cancelled at a moment’s notice as national lockdowns were swiftly enforced.

12 months later and we live in an entirely different world. Fortunately, retail this Christmas is in a much more stable position, with more regular trading hours and in-store shopping. Nevertheless, the landscape of retail continues to evolve as it faces new challenges and demands. The aftershocks of Christmas 2020, new trends and consumer behaviour and the impact of online retail will have a significant effect on Christmas 2021.

As we highlighted in our recent Black Friday blog, luxury retailers must consider how they are going to navigate developing consumer demands and cultures. For both boutique and larger companies, this is a major operation to strategize.

So, what does Christmas 2021 have in store? What are the projections for luxury fashion sales? How has Covid-19 and Brexit affected retail staffing? How will we personally reflect on the last 12 months this Christmas?

How Has the Luxury Fashion Market Changed Since Last Christmas?

Despite the impact of Covid-19 on global trade, the luxury fashion market is forecasted tremendous growth over the next five years. Social media marketing, influencing and platforming has had a major impact on reaching younger, high-value individuals whilst helping to increase brand loyalty.

More than that, we’re already seeing strong forecasts for retail spending this Christmas; even up from 2019’s Christmas. In fact, findings from Dataweave have indicated luxury fashion retailers have come out of 2020 stronger than ever. Mastercard forecast an up-take on consumer spending on clothing and jewellery as in-person festivities return. Clearly, consumers are ready to make up for last year’s lost Christmas.

However, a further breakdown reveals more shifts in consumer behaviour and deeper challenges for retail vendors. It’s no secret that customers have pivoted from in-store to online shopping. As Forbes has highlighted, more customers are moving to online purchases; even luxury consumers who would usually opt for the in-store experience. It’s also worth considering that more consumers buy for Christmas early, making the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

However, luxury retail still offers customer service, unlike any other retail experience. Luxury fashion houses continue to offer one-of-a-kind pieces, exceptional social media marketing and in-store experiences. The appetite for luxury fashion is there, so how can retailers capitalise on it this Christmas and into 2022?

Whilst sales look positive this Christmas, there are many other challenges retailers need to consider. One is of course staffing. The combination of the pandemic and Brexit has resulted in swathes of workers from across Europe leaving the UK. This has had a profound effect on labour for industries across the UK, but luxury fashion staffing has its only challenges to contend with, as it searches for those bespoke skills, qualities, and knowledge the industry demands.

There is also of course the ever-present threat of Covid-19, as face masks become mandatory in shops once again. This is another challenge for vendors: how can they make customers’ visits to stores feel safe?

How Can Luxury Fashion Retailers Make this a Christmas to Remember?

So, how will luxury fashion vendors meet the demands of this Christmas? How can they leverage their in-store and online sales, and how can they split operations between the two? What steps can they take to overcome staffing and Covid-19 related challenges?

As always, we asked for Charmain Gyles-Ferguson, OTB founder and manager for her wisdom, advice and opinions.

Luxury / retail stores have had the most difficult start to the year where online shopping stepped in to allow sales to continue in spite of the global lockdown. However, what has evolved in the past year (certainly in the last six months) is the need to get back to physical shopping as confidence returned on the announcement of ‘Freedom Day’ and a deluge of returning shoppers have left the stores unprepared for staffing and management cover.

After all, panic redundancies were made, many Europeans and Chinese returned home during lockdown and have not returned leaving a huge staffing shortage. So, add the usual increase of shoppers for Christmas, problems with logistics  / stock shortages. I hope shoppers will have a lot of patience waiting for service and know that they are supporting the very survival of bricks and mortar stores! It is safe to say online shopping will continue to thrive.

The staffing crisis is not going to go away anytime soon, so my advice/prediction is all companies will have to consider increasing their staffing budgets for 2022 as they will all be fighting to secure the best talent for their stores and head offices’ as we get back to normal trading.

In Conclusion – Reflecting on the last 12 Months

The challenges for everyone across the fashion industry over the last year have been unprecedented. We’ve been forced to close, re-open, adapt, strategize and reconsider how we’ll evolve in a constantly changing labour and consumer market. As thousands of workers have lost their job and businesses have closed or downsized, it’s understandable to feel despondent.

Nevertheless, 12 months later and we find ourselves in a completely new world, for better or for worse. As we’ve seen, businesses have more options than ever to engage with their customers and a craving for luxury fashion. As we enter 2022, it’s time to consider how you plan to thrive in the new year. This is a time of both uncertainty and amazing potential.

With OTB’s Retail Consultancy and Recruitment services, we’re here to help you make the most of Christmas 2021 and the new year in 2022 and beyond. Our ethos at OTB is to build and cultivate a long-term relationship with your brand that gets in the DNA of your business and customer base. This means we can help you unlock your true potential as a business this Christmas.

For candidates and recruiters alike, we build partnerships that ensure the perfect match between both parties. Recruitment can be an arduous and expensive journey for everyone involved. That’s why OTB always focuses on creating successful, happy and productive matches that truly meet the criteria for clients and candidates alike.

Email us today or call us on 02071693000; we can’t wait to celebrate your potential this Christmas.

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A few words about the article author

Dwayne Ferguson is the director of Digital360.mobi and head of Digital at Outside The Box Recruitment.

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