July 6, 2020

Coronavirus will bring textile production to Europe and boost online sales



The coronavirus crisis will bring a certain relocation of textile production to Europe and a strong growth in online commerce, trends that were already looming in the textile and fashion sector, but which the pandemic will definitely boost, according to experts consulted by Eph.

Closed shops, factories shutdown for weeks and supply problems have made the textile and fashion sector one of the most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which will force it to reinvent itself and face new challenges, the professionals maintain.

Mango’s director of institutional relations, Guillermo Corominas, has pointed out that the crisis in the sector “is deep” and that it is likely that a certain normality will not be reached until 2021.

Corominas believes that the online channel will be “the great beneficiary of the crisis” and that it will surely be reinforced, despite the fact that the first days of confinement were also affected, “since the situation generated much concern among citizens”, although now he is recovering.

The executive director of the Catalan Fashion Cluster (Modacc), David García, agrees that online commerce grows stronger every year, but that the current crisis will make it grow even more.

Although online sales in companies such as Mango represents 24% of total turnover, the average in Spain is around 6%, far from countries such as Germany or the United Kingdom, which are close to 30%, which is why García considers that our country has a long way to go and believes that, in a couple of years, the percentage can be around 12 or 15%.

The general director of Desigual, Alberto Ojinaga, shares his opinion, who asserts that during these weeks of confinement consumers “have been digitized intensely”, which will serve to accelerate a trend that was already observed.

For this reason, it expects an increase in the weight of billing in the digital channel which, in the case of Desigual, already reached 14.2% in 2019.

The CEO of the children’s clothing brand Boboli, Mónica Algás, also agrees that this pandemic will drive the upward trend in online commerce.

However, he assures that this increase “is not going to compensate” for the drop in sales that is being registered in the face-to-face channel “because the growth would have to be very large.”

Another trend that is accelerating the current crisis is a certain relocation of production. Although for the Modacc director, stopping production in Asia “seems impossible”, because the effects of globalization cannot be reversed, some excesses would have to be corrected.

Having suppliers farther away forces us to order more early and order larger volumes, but now changes are taking place in this regard, as “the market works with smaller volumes and with less deadlines in advance,” García points out. .

This expert adds that making smaller orders is becoming “more common” because, instead of having the entire collection at once, capsules are arriving that allow a greater variety and stimulate more sales.

Ojinaga also thinks that in order to create collections faster, it is necessary to “streamline processes and value local production”, because it will also tend to work with “less stock”.

The Spanish Intextile Council recently demanded fiscal and tariff uniformity to facilitate manufacturing in Europe and not depend on more distant markets, which can leave “without rapid response to any exceptional circumstance”.

A recent report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) predicts a decrease in textile sales of between 34 and 39% this year for a sector that generates 2.8% of GDP in Spain and 4.1% of working market.

The executive director of the Catalan Fashion Cluster believes that “there are few companies that can bear” this blow and that small multi-brand stores will be the most affected.

From Boboli, Mónica Algás believes that now it is time to “reinvent everything”, also selling in stores, since in-person selling “is going to be more difficult” with the measures that will have to be taken in terms of maintaining distances, the need to wear gloves and masks and other hygienic measures.

For this reason, he believes that it will be necessary to rethink the viability of continuing to have all the sizes displayed in the store or if it will be preferable to have a single garment and the rest to leave it in the warehouse

Another possibility, according to Algás, would be not to allow the clothes to be tested in the fitting rooms and for the client to do so at home, with a significant “flexibility” of the return policies.

“We expect important changes in consumer behavior,” says Algás, and businesses “will have to adapt,” but all this will be seen depending on how things evolve.

For Mango’s director of institutional relations, it will be necessary to see what the habits of the new consumer are and adapt to them. In this sense, he believes that the client will be more interested in buying “more sustainable” pieces and, in the event that telework continues, they are also more comfortable.

At the moment, the opening protocol of Mango includes, among other measures, that the staff work with a mask, limit the capacity of the stores or that the garments that are returned or that have been tested remain in quarantine for 48 hours before being exposed to new to the public.

Ana Ochoa

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