Supply chain roadblocks are threatening fashion brands’ typically merry holiday shopping season.
At Glossy’s Future of Fashion Summit, held in Miami earlier this month, Glossy surveyed attending fashion brand workers about the state and direction of their companies and the fashion industry at large. The resounding message: It’s already a new normal — and many of the changes workers are seeing are for the better. The glaring exception: this year’s holiday season.
The fourth quarter is typically brands’ biggest sales period, and many have come to rely on an influx of holiday shoppers to meet annual sales goals. According to a July 2021 Glossy and Modern Retail survey of 45 brand and retail workers, 36% said Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most important sales periods to their business. Thirty-eight percent said the Christmas season outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is most important.
However, this year, brands are bracing themselves for the worst. Of the fashion brand workers surveyed at the Summit, 48% said they disagree (38%) or strongly disagree (10%) that their company is well-equipped to handle the holiday season.
This holiday season is expected to drive record e-commerce sales, at $207 billion in the U.S., according to Adobe. That’s due, in large part, to consumers’ newfound comfort with shopping online. But there’s also the fact that they have fewer physical shopping options at their disposal: In 2021, 3,700 stores are set to close, according to commercial real estate analytics firm CoStar Group. In 2021, a record 12,200 closed. And, as brand workers see it, physical retail won’t recover anytime soon. Forty-eight percent of survey respondents disagreed that physical retail will bounce back to pre-pandemic levels by 2023 — in fact, 45% strongly disagreed.
But brands are setting themselves up for a stronger 2022 and beyond. Though some have continued to seek comfort in the way their business used to run, many have used the disruptive past 18 months to reevaluate their operations and direction, and right-track their business for the future. Seventy-two percent of the fashion workers surveyed disagreed that their company is “more focused on reinstating pre-pandemic processes than leveraging recent learnings to improve processes.” Only 14% agreed.
What’s more, countering the notorious DTC trend of putting too many eggs in the marketing basket, 45% of fashion workers said their companies are now more focused on product quality and innovation than marketing. It makes sense, considering brands have realized the importance of community; while marketing may work to secure one sale, it will neither earn a brand diehard fans nor keep customers coming back.
Finally, the surveyed fashion workers had a positive outlook on the state of the industry, in terms of its current state of diversity, equity and inclusion: Seventy-two percent said it’s more diverse, equitable and inclusive than it was two years ago. As they see it, brands’ ramped-up moves around DE&I aren’t just marketing.