Products of change. News

Covid accelerates demand for sustainability

Tue 08 Dec 2020 | 02:40 pm GMT
Michelle Urquhart | Products of Change Writer

More people are buying second hand clothing now

Three quarters of UK shoppers have modified their buying behaviour and adopted more ethical shopping and eating habits Consumers are changing how they behave and are buying with the planet in mind. Ethical consumer spending hit record levels last year, swelling to more than £41bn, revealed in a new survey by Cybertill retail software and the Retail Gazette. According to the survey, the most prevalent action taken by retailers is providing sustainable packaging options, which 37% of retailers say they currently offer. This is also the area of sustainability that most consumers have prioritised. Influenced by Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, which highlighted the scale of the problem that plastic was creating in our oceans, almost half (46%) of consumers said they were actively reducing their plastic usage. Meanwhile, 35% of the retailers surveyed say they offer ethical product lines. This is particularly prevalent in fashion retail, where fast fashion players are facing a backlash from consumers over ethical concerns and are the subject of a parliamentary inquiry. “Covid has accelerated the consumer demand for sustainable shopping choices,” said Ian Tomlinson, Cybertill CEO. “A recent survey by Wrap, a not-for-profit supporting sustainable practices, found that 91% of people who acquired second hand or vintage items over the summer will ‘definitely’ or ‘likely’ continue in the future. Consumer attitudes towards clothing and the environment are changing and sustainable shopping behaviours are sticking.” Technology potentially has a vital role to play in making the shopping experience more sustainable, with 43% of retailers saying technology is holding them back from reducing the amount of unsold stock. Putting in the required technology and processes requires investment. For example, retailers offering rental services like Selfridges need real-time inventory management in order to only show customers items that are available to rent. They need to know where clothing is - be it within stores, distribution centres, at customer homes or in transit between these locations - and to manage the maintenance and repair of products. “Personally, I’m heartened by the results of this survey because it shows that retailers are still innovating, and pivoting business models to stay relevant to today’s consumer,” said Ian. Download the Cybertill report
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