This month’s Fashion Friday podcast episode by Euromonitor International analyses top trends shaping the apparel industry in South Africa in the medium term. The region experienced recessionary economic conditions in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Middle East & Africa, the value of the industry declined by 15 percent due to lockdown restrictions, as both the demand and supply sides of the industry were impacted. As a result, a few trends emerged, and some are gaining more prominence due to COVID-19.
There has been a rise in digitalisation. All major apparel retailers, both local and international, now have an online presence and have been investing heavily in their e-commerce platform to improve user experience. Pure online retailers such as Superbalist and Zando, who already had a competitive edge on apparel specialists when it comes to their e-commerce business, also have a mobile app. Mobile phones are the device of choice when it comes to online shopping in South Africa.
Another popular trend amongst consumers is the option to pay Cash-on-Delivery. This payment method is convenient for consumers who do not have a credit card, bank account or simply do not trust online businesses and would rather receive their order and then make the payment on the spot. Digitalisation is seen across many aspects of the business, not just in terms of shopping but also payments and delivery.
Apart from Cash-on-Delivery, there have been new payment options used by retailers to drive demand. There was the introduction of a payment service called Pay Just Now, which is the digital version of the traditional lay by method locals are familiar with. With Pay Just Now, you can take delivery of your products after you have made the first payment, unlike the traditional stores where you have to make full payment before you can take possession of your order.
The third trend that is gaining traction globally is the rise in casual wear. Consumers have shifted their new purchases and wardrobes towards more casual and loungewear options wanting to be comfortable and relaxed, while still looking presentable. Retailers have responded by offering softer fabrics and more comfortable fits as we have seen consumers stay home for longer periods.
COVID-19 has had devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods, with many businesses having to close their doors. In response it has caused many consumers to shop more consciously, stimulating their demand for local brands. In doing so it has been a way to signal solidarity and playing one’s part during the pandemic and tough economic conditions. The pandemic has caused massive disruptions to supply chains with country-wide lockdowns, port backlogs, and shipping delays. Producing locally creates the advantage of having a more agile supply chain, being able to make styling changes or cancel orders much closer to delivery. Given the current market conditions where agility is needed, it is in retailers’ plans to support and invest in the local manufacturing industry.
Written and created for FashionUnited by Euromonitor. Explore more fashion-related podcasts on their website. And find out more about by Euromonitor here.