FEATURE: COVID-19 self-gifting trend opens way for smaller retailers

Due to the consumer trend for bulk buying as a result of coronavirus, shoppers may not be able to access all their food favourites in supermarkets, but they are splurging on luxury goods online, reveals tech firm Emarsys. 

In their recent study, the omni-channel customer engagement platform confirmed that consumers are splashing out on leather goods, such as handbags and high-end trainers; where consumers worldwide spent 57% more on luxury goods online just last week.

Gifting culture grows amid lockdown

The surge in sales of luxury goods online is likely a result of people comfort buying to help them stay positive through the COVID-19 crisis. This retail trend also known as the “lipstick effect“, is when consumers are more likely to purchase gifts for themselves during difficult times.

However, small retailers, even if they don’t sell high end luxury goods, don’t have to be shut out from profiting from this trend. In fact, they can use the lockdown period to hone their marketing and content production to promote their own goods as gifting items during the coronavirus period.

As offices are continuing to operate remotely in compliance with the Government’s lockdown and social distancing laws, there has also been an increase in consumers shopping for “work-from-home” garments. The trend dubbed “quarantire” i.e quarantine attire has seen searches for ‘grey joggers’ up by 35% since January 2020, a study by Goxip a fashion and lifestyle search platform revealed.

Trending items

The research also found that sales for socks have increased by 26%, with thick sporty styles currently the most in demand. Searches for ‘crew socks’ specifically have increased by 54% over the last 3 months. In addition, the retro “bike-short” is also making a come back among consumers during the coronavirus period, with a pair of cycling shorts currently being searched 100 times every hour.

Despite the rise in online purchasing during coronavirus, consultancy firm Bain & Company is predicting that store closures will still result in a decline of up to 35% in sales for the global luxury goods market this year.

I appreciate that e-commerce isn’t going to help every brand in the world right now, but it can be a serious help in offsetting the damage caused by lost sales in physical stores while we navigate this global crisis. Many luxury brands believe that luxury sales can’t be done effectively online, but during this time, those brands may have no choice but to reconsider the channels through which they sell,” commented senior vice president of verticals at Emarsys, Alex Timlin.

Timlin’s point raises the question whether digitally native and younger market e-commerce sites, as well as more agile smaller retailers, can sell better online than their luxury counterparts during lockdown?

Can small beat luxury?

With personalised customer service and in-store care being so integral to the high-end luxury brand experience, now that stores are closed, it’s not surprising that industry insiders are predicting an overall decline in high-end luxury sales globally.

Luxury store lockdowns could be an opportunity for smaller retailers with e-commerce sites to benefit from the self-gifting trend by offering consumers more affordable goods, thereby attracting consumers who wouldn’t normally spend on themselves, but could be tempted by a small gift.

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