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Back to school? How customer behavior will change post Covid-19

By Guest Contributor

Apr 29, 2020

While the timing of back-to-school assortments remains uncertain, the change in consumer attitudes and desires after Covid-19 are sure to impact your ranges. Edited highlights the most significant shifts and offers direction for your school uniform stock.

Hygiene

Customers may wish to continue the stricter hygiene measures set in place during the pandemic, something retailers can work into back-to-school ranges with fabrics containing antibacterial properties. UK retailer Marks & Spencer already offers an antibacterial finish on its school shirts, while also providing 'Freshfeet™' technology to prevent odors within its hosiery.

Retailers should consider the benefits of these properties on clothing most likely to receive repetitive exposure such as gym and PE kits, gloves, scarves, hats and even accessories like school bags. With hand-washing currently at the crux of personal hygiene, consider adding reminders for washing hands on the inside labels of apparel.

Comfort

Such an extended period of home-schooling will drastically alter the habits and routines of consumers. While returning to school and wearing school uniform marks a welcome return to normality, children may be used to wearing apparel that prioritizes comfort and function.

Retailers are already recognizing the importance of schoolwear that is comfortable. So the addition of ergonomic details like elasticated waists, cuffed ankles on trousers, softer linings and stretch fabrications all contribute to a more considered range.

Value for money

With uncertainty surrounding jobs and the world's economic state, a sense of frugality and higher expectation for product quality has already set in. When the back-to-school rush comes, customers will be expecting money saving promotions and products with increased longevity. Ensure your strategies are well timed and supportive - offers should avoid terminology that sounds like it is capitalizing on this significant change in lifestyle. Rather than emphasizing bulk buys, consider moving out of season stock as 'investment pieces for next season' to avoid dramatic price slashes and focus on steady discounting. Attributes that extend the shelf life of products such as non-iron, stain and scuff resistant capabilities should also see a focus in promotions.

Other factors to consider

The childrenswear resale market holds vast potential for schoolwear. Retailers should consider the introduction of partnerships like that of Selfridges and Kidswear Collective, which offered customers re-worn pieces at discounted prices.

Digital experiences are fast becoming ingrained in customers' expectations of a brand, with retailers employing virtual fitting experiences as a way to work around bricks-and-mortar closures. With 'digital natives' an increasing part of your customer base, these may become essential moving forward.

Home-schooling has seen increased attention during the pandemic, with suggestions that wearing a school uniform at home may help children focus. Pureplay UK schoolwear retailer Grays has released a 'Home Cool' uniform for those learning from home.

This article was written for FashionUnited by Retail Analyst, Katherine Bailey of Edited. Edited is the leader and industry-standard for real-time retail analytics, where the software leverages artificial intelligence to track and reveal insights on competitor product ranges, pricing, discounting and trends across the global retail landscape. The software is used by buyers, planners and trading teams to generate a huge competitive advantage.

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash