Stuck with a backlog of merchandise due to the coronavirus outbreak, retailers slashed prices on apparel and have been pushing the goods online. Their efforts to cut bloated inventories are now paying off.
For the most recent seven-day period, year-over-year online sales of fashion apparel and accessories showed double-digit gains in the U.S. as well as in key markets abroad as consumers reduce purchases of household essentials, cleaning products and indoor fitness equipment.
According to data from Emarsys and GoodData, which tracks 400 million consumer transactions in more than 120 countries, online revenue rose 18 percent for traditional retailers in the U.S., which compares to a 1 percent gain last week when sales climbed into the black after spending weeks in the negative territory.
The total number of transactions for the most recent period showed a 25 percent gain in the U.S. This compares with a 15 percent revenue gain and 29 percent transaction gain for pure-play e-commerce retailers in the U.S.
The revenue data comes as Astound Commerce said in a separate report that global online shopping showed a 55 percent year-over-year gain from March 9 to March 16. The increase was led by Europe, the company said with online shopping rising 129 percent. “This immediate shift has tested many companies’ ability to be agile and successfully scale their business to meet these increased shopper demands,” Astound Commerce said in its report. “Furthermore, merchants that provide omnichannel service options have the upperhand in these unprecedented times because they can provide shoppers with immediate order fulfillment, albeit at a distance, either via pick-up or curbside delivery.”
With the Emarsys and GoodData data, it’s unclear what percentage of sales is from retailers such as Walmart and Target that have stores open, and curbside delivery.
And in regard to the increase in online sales in the U.S., researchers at Emarsys and GoodData said the gains “confirms that consumers have not [at all] closed up their wallets during this time; but rather, are splurging even more than normal on luxury and fashion items these past few weeks.”
“It was expected that consumer sentiment would take a complete nosedive through these rough times, but the population is proving doubters wrong by continuing to purchase luxury and fashion items online at a staggering pace,” Emarsys and GoodData said on the data platform site.
Looking globally at the sales data, revenue of online fashion apparel and accessories in Italy rose more than 80 percent for traditional retailers for the most recent period reported while pure-play e-tailers saw sales gain 13 percent. In France, apparel sales jumped 14 percent at traditional retailers and 61 percent at pure-play e-tailers. In the U.K., online fashion apparel sales remained down, posting a 4 percent year-over-year decline. But at pure-play e-tailers, sales soared 49 percent.
In China, online apparel sales remained down at traditional retailers and pure-play e-tailers alike, showing year-over-year declines of 38 and 75 percent, respectively.
In the U.S., the pace of markdowns has been consistent with daily specials as well as pegged against this past weekend’s Easter holiday and Mother’s Day, which is May 10. Online markdowns at traditional retailers have been between 25 and 50 percent with “flash sales” of 75 percent on certain items.
This week, macys.com has apparel at 40 percent off, with free shipping on orders of $25 or more. Kohl’s is touting Levi Strauss & Co. tops and bottoms at 40 percent off as well as assorted Nike, Adidas and Under Armour items of 25 to 30 percent off.
Dillard’s web site is offering 25 to 40 percent off on branded women’s apparel (DKNY, Calvin Klein and Free People, among others) and 50 percent off of women’s suits. At J.C. Penney’s site, the retailer has Levi Strauss & Co. branded apparel at a 40 percent discount, and 25 percent off Nike, Adidas and Champion activewear. The company also has select products on clearance of 80 percent off.
While these online deals are great for consumers, and will help clear out inventory, traditional department stores will face dismal first-quarter sales. Dana Telsey, chief research officer of Telsey Advisory Group, expects a 44 percent average sales decline for the department store segment in the first quarter.
“With the wide-scale global disruptions from COVID-19, we characterize 2020 as a lost year, especially for department store retailers that are feeling the severe impact of the halt in consumer discretionary spending,” Telsey said in a research note this week. “Compounding the issue are the lingering unknowns of the timeframe and cadence for the reopening of retail stores that are primarily mall-based [and therefore also contingent on landlord decisions] as well as the impact of unemployment and household incomes on consumer spending down the road.”