Affluent shoppers are price sensitive and discount driven, survey says

London - Affluent consumers are becoming increasingly price sensitive and more inclined to visit online discount retailers than before.

According to a survey by First Insight, a company offering retail solutions, shoppers with an income over 100,000 US dollars are as likely to do comparative shopping as those who are less wealthy, using mobile technology to compare prices.

The survey found 42 percent of affluent shoppers now frequently shop at discount retailers versus only 27 percent at full price retailers, with 36 percent saying their discount shopping has increased. Twenty-one percent of affluent respondents also reported they were more inclined to visit online discount retailers, compared to only 12 percent of overall respondents.

Results of the survey, which queried 1,000 participants in the U.S. on their shopping habits, purchase behavior and influences driving purchase decisions indicate that industry disruptors are impacting the behavior of affluent consumers and changing the way they make purchase decisions,“ said Greg Petro, CEO and founder of First Insight. “A growing number of affluent consumers shopping at discount retailers over full priced retailers is an important finding, as it indicates they have already become more price sensitive. It is more critical than ever that retailers and brands offer differentiated products at the right price in order to attract the informed, affluent shopper on the hunt for deals both in-store and online.”

Amazon is a benchmark for comparative shopping

According to the findings, a vast majority of affluent consumers (74 percent) check Amazon.com for products and pricing before looking elsewhere, versus 60 percent of overall consumers. This is likely driven by the affluent shopper’s view that product pricing online is better. Half of affluent respondents felt that prices of products in physical retail stores are increasing, while slightly less (46 percent) felt online retail stores’ pricing was increasing.

Of note, while 61 percent of affluent respondents said their number of Amazon purchases increased in the past year, 80 percent said they were unwilling to pay more for two-day shipping, underscoring growing sensitivity to prices.

Affluent shoppers are also much more likely to price compare using mobile devices while at full-priced retail stores. According to the study, 44 percent of affluent respondents (compared to 38 percent overall) are more likely to price compare at full priced retail stores, while only 19 percent are more likely to price compare at discount retailers (versus 15 percent overall).

Favorite discount retailers include TJ Maxx (30 percent), Marshalls (28 percent) and HomeGoods (23 percent).

39 percent of affluent shoppers are using their mobile devices to price compare while in-store, compared to only 26 percent overall, and the need is growing. The result of the study indicated that more than half (52 percent) of affluent respondents noted that their need to price compare while physically in-store is increasing, versus 46 percent overall.

While the affluent are price checking in-store, the survey found that the two most important factors that would make them want to shop in a physical store versus buying online are being able to see and touch the product (36 percent) and being able to take a product home (26 percent). Price promotions and coupon availability were important to only 10 percent of affluent respondents, and only 12 percent said they felt they’d find better prices in-store, compared to 17 percent overall.

First Insight’s findings are based on a targeted sample of 1,000 respondents. The survey was fielded in December of 2017, and was completed through proprietary sample sources amongst panels who participate in online surveys.

First Insight is a leading provider of solutions empowering retailers and brands to incorporate the voice of the consumer into the design and merchandising of new products.

Photo credit: First Insight

Fast Retailing to launch Uniqlo in Sweden

Uniqlo has plans to go full-speed ahead by opening a new store in Sweden, a move that would put them in rival H&M's home market. The brand plans to launch its first store in Stockholm this fall. This would mark Uniqlo's entrance into the Nordic market.

Uniqlo is famous for its Heat Tech technology, which will have excellent appeal to consumers in the colder Nordic market. Although Uniqlo has gained huge popularity in the East Asian and American markets, in all of Europe they only have 70 stores. In their 2016 annual report, Fast Retailing's CEO Tadashi Yanai outlined expanding Uniqlo's international growth as one of their top priorities for 2017.

Although the company's report for 2017 isn't out yet, they made great strides with their new LifeWear category and saw strong market growth in Japan. While we are living in an era of online shopping, according to the 2016 report, only 5 percent of Uniqlo's sales came from online. The move to open brick-and-mortar in Sweden is a smart one until their online sales catch up with their in-store sales.

photo: via Uniqlo Facebook page
​Alexander McQueen teams up with JD.com​'s Toplife

London - Alexander McQueen has partnered up with JD.com to launch a new online store on the Chinese ecommerce giant's luxury platform Toplife, in order to strengthen its presence in China.

The deal, which sees Alexander McQueen opening a dedicated webshop on Toplife, is set to give the luxury fashion brand access to JD.com's firmly-established logistical infrastructure as well as its understanding of Chinese luxury e-commerce. The new online store is set to offer Alexander McQueen complete fashion ranges, as well as accessories.

Alexander McQueen currently operates 15 stores throughout China and Hong Kong and aims to bolster its online reach by collaborating with JD.com “We are proud to collaborate with JD.com with the launch of our store on their Toplife platform,” said Emmanuel Gintzburger, CEO of Alexander McQueen in a statement. “It is a strategic addition to our physical presence in China, part of our multi-channel experience. JD.com’s advanced capabilities will allow us to engage with a larger local clientele, whilst respecting the creative expression of the house.”

Launched last October, Toplife aims to fill a gap in the Chinese e-commerce market by only offering full-priced items from premium global brands. Toplife offers international luxury brands access to its allround system, which seamlessly incorporates an online store, premium customer service, delivery services as well as marketing and branding expertise in China.

“JD is thrilled to welcome Alexander McQueen, one of the world’s most visionary and innovative fashion labels, to Toplife,” added Richard Liu, CEO of JD.com. “With our continued push into luxury, we are committed to bringing top-notch service and a vast array of options to our discerning luxury consumers. Alexander McQueen’s critically acclaimed collections are a perfect addition to the growing range of sophisticated offerings available on Toplife.”

The move follows on from the launch of Saint Laurent's stand-alone online store on Toplife earlier this month.

Photo: Alexander McQueen AW17/18 campaign, courtesy of JD.com

Los Angeles - For Love and Lemons is moving into retail. The contemporary clothing and lingerie brand just opened its first store this past Saturday, January 13.

This weekend, the brand posted on their Instagram account a photo of the new store front set on La Cienega Boulevard. The Silverlake-based brand opens its doors this past weekend with events on the rooftop involving a cafe and a candy bar. For Love and Lemons was teasing on its social media accounts the store opening with the hashtag #FLLinLA.

With its official opening, this marks the brand's pop-up shop. According to the brand's website, the store will remain open for only two months. "After years of playing with opening a retail location, we’re finally doing it!" the brand stated on their official site. For Love and Lemons will also host fun customer events as well as highlight their newest collections through the shop. Whether or not retail is the right move for the clothing brand still remains to be seen.

Wholesale marketplace Joor has decided to expand its headquarters. The digital company has expanded two of its offices in both Los Angeles and Paris.

The expansion comes from a stem of growth from the company, according a press release. “We are excited by the continued growth and demand we are seeing for Joor technology," Kristin Savilia, chief executive officer of Joor, said in a statement. "Client service is what sets JOOR apart from the competition so growing our offices in cities where our clients are based is paramount to building and keeping the world’s largest digital wholesale marketplace."

The offices are both located near the cities' retail and fashion districts. The Paris office, located in the Marais, will now be under leadership of the company's new managing director of sales, Kevin Kozinchik. He will oversee the overall EMEA sales and business development for Joor. The Los Angeles office will be relocated in the Fashion District near downtown. The office is in the city's iconic Merchants Exchange Building. The relocation headquarters will be overseen by New York headquarters, according to the press release.

Founded in 2010, the digital marketplace has a portfolio of over 3,000 brands. Joor is also helps more than 175,000 retail locations with manual processes and help these business grow through efficient planning and analytics.

According to the website willrobotstakemyjob.com the retail industry is “doomed”.

The American-based site saw over 300,000 searches in December, which allows users to enter their job titles in the quest to find out how likely it is for their jobs to be replaced by automation and robots.

According to the site, a colossal 47 percent of US jobs are at risk of being completely automated, triggering a landslide concern over job security.

The retail sector has changed vastly in the past decade, with online shopping changing the entire landscape of how we shop and work. Warehouses have replaced stores, robotic arms are replacing pick and pack humans, automated delivery drones are replacing the delivery van driver.

Dr Hui Cheng, head of China’s JD.com told the Retail Gazette that it operates nearly 7000 distribution centers, providing same day and next delivery to 1 billion people. He stated that during JD’s anniversary sales the company sold 700 million items, with all requiring same day or next day delivery. That is comparable to every inhabitant in Europe buying one item required imminent delivery. “For those logistics pilots human power can just not match the increase in demand.”

According to the Retail Gazette, those who have a 92 percent rating on willrobotstakemyjob.com are likely to see their role change, but not entirely disappear. Although upskilling will be a retailers - and employee’s - prerogative, a human element will always be necessary in maintaining, programming and administering automated machines.

In Pictures: Gucci Garden opens during Pitti Uomo 93

London - Gucci has turned seduction into an art form and its newly opened Gucci Garden, which opened its doors in Florence on Tuesday during Pitti Uomo, underlines the Italian luxury label's skills. The new concept, which includes haute couture in addition to art, haute cuisine and cinematography was designed by Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele.

Located within the ancient Palazzo della Mercanzia, Gucci Garden is home to an exhibition area, a bazaar-inspired boutique, a cinema room as well as a restaurant, named Gucci Osteria. The concept aims to explore the fashion house’s ‘electric creativity’ by offering visitors the chance to explore a curated range of archival pieces as well as more recent items, memorabilia, and contemporary art. Based on the format of a conventional museum, Michele aimed to reimagine it as a living, collaborative and creative space which shares the ever-evolving aesthetic of Gucci.

In Pictures: Gucci Garden opens during Pitti Uomo 93

Gucci launches new concept during Pitti Uomo: Gucci Garden

“The garden is real, but it belongs above all to the mind, populated with plants and animals: like the snake, which slips in everywhere, and in a sense, symbolises a perpetual beginning and a perpetual return,” said Michele on the concept. Spanning two floors, the Gucci Garden Galleria features apparel, video installations, artworks, documents and artefacts from the luxury fashion house, organised by theme. Michele worked alongside curator and critic Maria Luisa Frisa, head of the BA course in Fashion Design and Multimedia Arts at Luav University in Venice to create the Galleria displays.

In Pictures: Gucci Garden opens during Pitti Uomo 93

“We decided to make the space a laboratory where you have all the elements with which to creatively experiment,” she said. “In the rooms entitled De Rerum Natura, for example, we see Gucci’s passion for flora and fauna expressed through vintage and current garments, silver animal statuettes made by the firm in the Fifties and original artwork by Vittorio Accornero, who was commissioned to create the Gucci Flora print in 1966.” All Gucci designers work is represented in the Galleria. “The past is very much part of the present at Gucci, which is perfectly in keeping with Alessandro’s idea of the brand, and indeed his attitude to Florence, Gucci’s home, which he sees as a city where history is still vibrantly alive.”

In Pictures: Gucci Garden opens during Pitti Uomo 93

Gucci also invited three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura to open a 50-seat restaurant, Gucci Osteria, on the ground floor of Gucci Garden. Bottura created an entirely new menu of high-end dishes for the restaurant, which was influenced by his travels. “Travelling the world, our kitchen interacts with everything we see, hear and taste,” said Bottura. “With eyes wide open, we look for the unexpected and next éclat.’ The menu will include iconic Italian dishes as well as conceptual twists on classics for an all-day dining experience. The restaurant is a reminder that Florence has always been a centre of cultural exchange, particularly during the Renaissance.”

In Pictures: Gucci Garden opens during Pitti Uomo 93

In addition to the restaurant, the ground floor is also home to a bazaar-like retail area spread across two rooms. The space features products exclusively designed for the Gucci Garden, which will not be sold in any other Gucci stores. Exclusive items to the concept include shoes and bags crafted from special materials, brocade skirts and coats, as well as silk amber jackets that feature Gucci Garden Gothic script. Some of the items feature the dedicated Gucci Garden logo, as new symbols, such as a new eye design and bat. Items from the Gucci Decor collection are also for sale in Gucci Garden, as well as a selection of books and magazines.

In Pictures: Gucci Garden opens during Pitti Uomo 93

Tickets for the Gucci Garden Galleria are 8 euros and half the ticket price is set to be donated to support restoration projects throughout the city of Florence. Prices for dishes at Gucci Osteria range from 20 to 30 euros.

Photos: Gucci Garden, courtesy of Gucci

London - Forever 21 seems to have fallen out of favor as the fast-fashion retailer continues to struggle amidst weakening sales. Forever 21 is set to close its only store in Ireland following poor trading conditions, as it downsizes its UK store estate.

The US-retailer will be closing its only store in Dublin, Ireland in addition to its flagship store in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In addition, Forever 21 will also be shutting down its downtown store in Vancouver, Canada, due to flagging sales. Recently filed accounts for Forever 21 Fashion Ireland Ltd indicate the retailer has set aside close to 11 million euros for the lease exit and redundancy costs, which combined with the 4.5 million euro loss recorded in the financial year which ended February 2016 has resulted in a 44 million euro loss.

The fast-fashion retailer first opened its store in Dublin in 2010, and reportedly invested more than 10 million euros in renovating the store. Since then, Forever 21 has expanded to other European markets, such as Germany, Spain, Poland and France. However, the US retailer has struggled in a number of markets, including Britain and may be poised to exit a number of its international markets.

Australian fashion is making an effort in targeting more U.S. customers. This month, the Aussie Collective just opened a 1,000 square foot space at Westfield Century City highlighting Australian designers.

The boutique acts as a temporary space representing fashion and lifestyle brands from Australia. The pop-up also serves as a way to help grow these brands in the U.S. market, specifically Los Angeles. “We feel that there’s a lot of synergies between the fashion culture here in California and our Australian brands that are represented in the pop-up Chelsey Martin, Australian consul general of Los Angeles, told WWD. “The types of designs when you go into the store really represent a great diversity of Australian talent.”

The collective features brands including Kip + Co, Vie Active, Pared Eyewear, Kirrikin, Swisse and more. The store will retail womenswear, menswear, accessories, footwear and more. The collective will be open during normal mall operating hours and will stay open for a month long, according to Footwear News.

Mastercard is reporting that Christmas sales increased 4.9 percent, setting a new record for dollars spent and marking the largest year-over-year increase since 2011, as consumer confidence continues to grow.

The Mastercard SpendingPulse data covers holiday shopping from November 1 through to December 24 in the US, covering retail sales across all payment types, including cash and check, both in-store and online, with e-commerce recording large gains of 18.1 percent compared to 2016.

Key results includes specialty apparel and department stores, which both traditionally see the bulk of sales happen in-store, reporting moderate gains, while retailers’ heavy early-season promotions paid off said Mastercard, as the first three weeks of November saw a “significant jump” in sales.

This holiday season also saw shoppers spending late into the season, with December 23 next to Black Friday in terms of single-day spending. This last-minute spending was driven by certain categories including jewellery, which grew 5.9 percent.

“Evolving consumer preferences continue to play out in the aisles and online sites of retailers across the US,” said Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of market Insights, Mastercard. “Overall, this year was a big win for retail. The strong US economy was a contributing factor, but we also have to recognise that retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase.”

Mastercard also released its SpendingPulse results for the UK holiday shopping season, with retail sales increasing 2.2 percent in December, helped by online spending for clothing, which saw a jump of 11.5 percent year-on-year.