Monthly Retail Round-Up - February 2020

Some of the best articles from the world of retail and its supporting industries.

Monthly Retail Round-Up - February 2020

At Dressipi we like to be right up to date with retail news. Here are the top stories this February.

1) Facial Recognition Trialling across London

Facial recognition is defined as “the process of identifying or verifying the identity of a person using their face – captures, analyses, and compares biometric patterns based on a person’s facial details” (Drapers). There are four main uses for it when it comes to retail including anti-shoplifting, automated check-out, customer service and customer journey tracking.

Facial recognition could be classed as creepy and invasive however reported in Drapers this February, “the Metropolitan Police service has today launched live facial recognition technology at key locations in London’s Westminster, including Oxford Street and Regent Street.”

This is despite the software being scrapped in 2018 in the Intu Trafford Centre in Manchester after the Surveillance Camera Commissioner stated that monitoring millions of innocent people was inappropriate, and again in September 2019 across London’s Kings Cross Central development (home to many retailers including Sweaty Betty, & Other Stories and Nike) because it involved tracking individuals without their consent.

Reported in Drapers, “Trials of the technology are also being used in locations including the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford and London’s West End.”

Research by UK marketplace Onbuy.com, stated in Drapers revealed:

  • Only 32% of UK shoppers feel “relaxed” and “willing to use facial recognition” to pay for goods and services
  • Just 17% of 5,000 respondents say they are comfortable about other people using facial recognition on them

2) London Fashion Week’s ‘Swap Shop’

With February comes fashion weeks across the world, including London. This time there was the launch of something new in the form of a ‘swap shop’.

As one of the many sustainability initiatives unveiled this fashion week, The Guardian reported that “Clothes swapping has become increasingly popular in recent years, as the appetite for dressing inexpensively and sustainably has boomed. But the practice has never before had such high-profile fashion industry approval.”

The clothes swap attracted donations from industry heavyweights including the sustainable fashion campaigner Livia Firth and Sarah Mower, a critic and British Fashion Council (BFC) ambassador. Patrick McDowell, a young designer also made use of the clothes swap by creating a whole collection from it. He said, “It’s an experiment. It’s never been done before. It fits in with the way the world’s moving, towards experiences, rather than consuming.”

A well known fact in the retail industry also reported in The Guardian by one of London Fashion Week’s organisers, Patrick Duffy, “150bn items of clothing is made each year, so much is sent to landfill – 300,000 tonnes each year in Britain. And that is growing every year. We have to remember the environmental social impact of that.” With this in mind, many other brands also put sustainable initiatives into motion:

  • Mulberry has launched an initiative to collect and repurpose vintage handbags
  • Ashley Williams used fabric from past samples in her new collection
  • Alexander McQueen announced a drive to donate its old, unused fabric to fashion students

3) Retailers Under Threat from Coronavirus

The outbreak of coronavirus has had a huge impact on retailers from all sectors. Reported in Vogue Business, “The epidemic has made apparent global luxury brands’ reliance on Chinese consumption and, for mass and mid-market fashion brands, on the country’s manufacturing and supply.”

Parent company, Capri Holdings of luxury brands Michael Kors and Versace detailed the impact coronavirus has had on them. They warned earlier this month that the coronavirus outbreak could result in a $100 million (£77 million) hit to revenue (Retail Gazette).

In a completely different sector, sportswear brands, Adidas and Puma have also been impacted by Coronavirus. The Business of Fashion reported that “the coronavirus outbreak was hurting their business in China due to store closures and fewer Chinese tourists travelling and shopping in other markets.” In statements reported by the brands:

  • Adidas said that its business in the Greater China area had dropped by about 85 percent year-on-year in the period since Chinese New Year on January 25
  • Puma said it expected the virus outbreak to hit its sales and profits in the first quarter but it still hopes to reach its targets for 2020

Both sectors have been hit hard due to a large volume of sales previously coming from China. The Business of Fashion reported “Adidas and Puma make almost a third of their sales in Asia, which has been the major growth market for the sporting goods industry in recent years,” whilst in the luxury space, “China has driven 80% of the growth at luxury groups such as LVMH and Kering” (Retail Gazette) and “Bottega Veneta made 53% of its annual revenue in Asia Pacific in fiscal year 2019, while brands like Hermès, Gucci and Burberry made almost half of their annual sales in the region” (Vogue Business).

We hope you enjoyed the round-up. Please feel free to get in touch with any stories you feel would be of interest.

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