For apparel players, partywear is a key revenue driver, as shoppers flock to buy festive attire to attend Christmas parties and events. However, GlobalData’s UK consumer survey conducted in October 2023 found that the majority of UK consumers intend to curb their partywear spend this year as a result of inflationary pressures, while those that anticipate spending more attribute this to increased costs rather than purchasing higher volumes. This paints a disappointing outlook for the quarter and highlights how retailers and brands will need to work harder during the festive period to entice cautious shoppers to spend.

40.7% of UK consumers do not plan on purchasing partywear this season and 17.6% anticipate spending less than last year, in contrast to just 10.6% expecting their spending to increase. This points to a considerable slowdown in sales in Q4, with GlobalData forecasting that the UK clothing and footwear market will decline by 1.5% to reach £17.4bn, as it faces strong comparatives from last year when there was a surge in demand due to it being the first Christmas since the pandemic without lockdown restrictions. 35-44s are most likely to reduce spend on partywear, as cited by 21.4% of this age group, since they are most likely to be affected by increased mortgage rates and have young families to provide for. Conversely, 23.7% of 16-24s stated that they intend to spend more, the highest of all age groups, as they are more interested in following the latest fashion trends and have fewer regular outgoings to worry about.

The cost-of-living crisis is the predominant reason for consumers reducing their partywear spend, with 55.8% of those expecting to spend less citing that this is due to tighter budgets, while 19.6% are trading down to cheaper retailers to save money. 27.1% stated that they will be wearing something they already own and 20.5% are cutting back to prioritize spend on Christmas presents, meaning brands need to be strategic across the festive period to encourage spend. Competitive offers and prices will allow players to stand out as consumers search around for the best deals, while innovative campaigns on social media will help to gain greater exposure.

Shoppers are also looking to other channels to source partywear, with 9.9% of UK consumers planning to rent it this season. Of those, 53.1% cited that this is due to its affordability and 42.2% are doing to so to access expensive brands they could not afford to buy outright. However, cost is not the only reason for consumers choosing to rent, with 42.1% stating that it is because it is more sustainable, and this driver is likely to increase in importance in future years as consumers become increasingly aware of the impact of overconsumption.

Though 10.6% of respondents stated that they intend to spend more on partywear this year, 63.8% of them attribute this to price increases as a result of inflation, rather than purchasing greater volumes. 42.2% of respondents intend to increase their partywear spend as a result of attending more social events this year, as the appetite for throwing parties and socialising remains strong following the pandemic, while 25.5% want to try new styles they do not already own, likely bolstered by an increased number of events this year. Increased spend will also come from shoppers trading up to more expensive brands, as selected by 10.5% of those planning on spending more, as consumers prioritize buying better quality products that they can wear for future seasons.

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By GlobalData