Photograph by Cristiano Betta http://www.flickr.com/photos/cristiano_betta/
High Street Gloom… but Digital Boom
A subject that I am beginning to get a little bit tired of, but still remains so relevant, is the current financial crisis. If you listen to all media reports, Armageddon is pretty much imminent. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the implications of the ‘credit crunch’ I’d just enjoy my Cornflakes a lot more without GMTV’s ‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis shouting at me about ISA’s and credit cards.
With Christmas just around the corner, the media is flooded with tales of low consumer spending as a result of the economic downturn, but having braved Oxford Street on Saturday, I think differently!
Despite the quite prominent gloom on the high street, with everyone’s favourite Woolie’s going into administration this week, the ‘crunch’ is having a positive effect online…
An article in Sunday’s Observer (30 Nov 08) showed that online shopping is still booming; ASOS.com announced that their sales from 6 October – 16 November 2008 were up 104% year-on-year, with profits up 68%. ASOS has over 1.8million customers in their database, and research shows that 45% of these visit each week. Rob Bready, product and trading director said, “We’ve got a similar amount of product to Selfridges on Oxford Street,” (I was there on Saturday and that’s A LOT of stock), “Last week we had 1.6m unique visitors to the site – which is probably more than Bluewater.”
ASOS is not the only online store experiencing this success, Yoox expects to end the year with 35-40% growth with the site having over 10million visitors in the past two months, and My-Wardrobe has announced a sales increase of 140% year-on-year. Online fashion is one of the only sectors seeing an introduction of new sites with two online stores launched this month; Far-fetch and catwalk-genius.com. The latter not only offers consumers the ability to buy the latest designer looks, but they are also offering ‘crowd-funding’ where consumers can invest in up-and-coming names.
One reason for this digital boom is that people are not less willing to spend, but less willing to flaunt. In the past few years it has been all about who has the latest Marc Jacobs or newest Aston Martin, but in the current ‘crisis’ this attitude is just insensitive and irresponsible. So, net-a-porter have jumped straight on this bandwagon and have launched a ‘discreet packaging’ service where your new Chanel LBD is delivered to your front door in an unbranded brown paper bag… vintage, chic and ego-friendly, I say!
But fear not, the high street IS fighting back with a rise in printable promo vouchers hitting everyone’s inboxes… 20% off at Selfridges, 2-4-1 at Pizza Express, 30% off at Gap, and a personal favourite, 40% off wine and champagne at Threshers. I seem to have the same codes coming from at least five friends every day. Mark Pearson, founder of My Voucher Codes UK, which has more than 3000 of these printable vouchers on their site, said “Last Christmas was busy, but this year has been crazy.”
So, despite the shrinking economy it seems that the internet is still thriving. As this is the first recession since the widespread use of the World Wide Web, perhaps it isn’t all gloom but a time for traditional retailers to consider more carefully, the opportunities that ‘digital’ offers.