Both digital fashion sales and web traffic fell back in December, falling -35% and -121% month-on-month, according to data from True Fit.
This dip, True Fit said, “could have been caused by consumers buying early, having already made digital fashion purchases during Black Friday, or were due to shoppers holding off making new online apparel buys due to covid restriction uncertainty ahead of Christmas”.
Data from True Fit’s Fashion Genome, a data set which analyses data from 17,000 retail brands and data from 84 million active members, showed site visits rose 64% in November compared to October and 40% year-on-year at the end of November.
On average, web traffic volumes across the peak trading period (October to December) were 37% higher than that of 2020, while online order volumes spiked even earlier compared to 2020, up +0% in October and 8% in November, mirroring consumers’ ‘get ahead’ approach to digital fashion purchases in the run up to Christmas.
With Plan B restrictions announced in early December, a fifth of UK businesses cancelled Christmas parties due to Omicron fears, while consumers limited pre-Christmas socialising to avoid infection or isolation ahead of Christmas Day, prompting hospitality firms to say Christmas trade was down 50% on pre-pandemic levels.
However, while web traffic to fashion retailers sites was down month-on-month in December, web visits were still up 30% on 2020 levels even as stores remained fully open this year.
Similarly, while online fashion sales value remained -5% down on average during December, across the peak trading period as a whole it rose 8% on 2020, with average order value (AOV) also up 7% on average for the same period.
Meanwhile, demand for online fit guidance during peak trading rose 13% compared to 2020, despite stores being fully open this year.
Sarah Curran Usher, general manager at True Fit, said: “Once again we have seen yet another validation of the rise and rise of digital fashion during this year’s peak trading period – building on the acceleration we saw last year during the pandemic.
“So far, online fashion continues to perform strongly and next year we will reach the watershed moment when, for the first time, digital fashion sales will overtake High Street revenues, validating the long-term shift in ecommerce demand and the buying behaviours of increasingly digitally-first consumers.”
She added: “As revenues from online channels rise in line with consumer demand for digital fashion, retailers and brands will need to build confidence in shoppers to evaluate brands and products digitally and leverage data to understand shoppers, their preferences and returns behaviour.”