Doesn’t suit you, sir! Yorkshire shoppers turn their backs on business suits

Just 6 per cent of shoppers in Yorkshire are planning to buy business suits in 2021, according to a new survey on how Covid-19 will hit consumer spending.

Brightpearl chief executive Derek O'Carroll

The survey by Brightpearl, a digital retail solutions firm, points to a crisis in the luxury sector in the region with a major switch away from ‘frivolous’ spending.

It found that just 8 per cent of shoppers in Yorkshire had made a big ticket purchase such as a car since the initial lockdown in March last year.

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The survey found that just one in 20 consumers (5 per cent) will buy luxury apparel such as designer handbags over the next 12 months. Only 6 per cent intend to spend on luxury watches, jewellery and fine art in the same time frame.

Overall, luxury spending is likely to fall 24 per cent in 2021.

The survey of 2,000 consumers is from Brightpearl, which provides digital operations solutions for some of the world’s biggest retail brands.

Brightpearl's chief executive, Derek O'Carroll, said: “The luxury sector in Yorkshire will be impacted hugely - who wears a suit to a meeting on Zoom?

“As people continue to tighten their belts, and with the knowledge that many major events are likely to be cancelled again this year, it seems people will be shying away from splashing out on a pair of premium boots or a handbag that they aren't sure they’ll be able to take out to show.”

Despite the new restrictions on movement likely to last at least until the spring, holidays are the most popular ‘big ticket’ item with 39 per cent of consumers still planning a summer break.

Brightpearl’s analysis revealed that consumers are showing less loyalty to brands since the pandemic struck.

Almost half of consumers (45 per cent) said they have been open to trying new brands and four out of ten shoppers (43 per cent) said that uncertainty over the economy has made them change their shopping habits drastically.

A quarter of shoppers have seen their income hit since Covid, although 21 per cent said they are saving money by working from home.

Almost one in ten (8 per cent) live in a household where at least one person has lost their job.

Only 40 per cent have seen ‘no change’ to their financial situation with 63 per cent saying they need to be ‘very careful’ with their money and 40 per cent will cut down on ‘frivolous’ spending over the next 12 months.

The Brightpearl survey also shows the big winners and losers since Covid.

Groceries (up 19 per cent) and garden equipment (up 17 per cent) are the winners while fashion (down 24 per cent), entertainment (down 20 per cent), electronic goods (down 17 per cent), toys and gifts (down 15 per cent) are the losers.

Mr O'Carroll added: “Shifts in spending habits apparent at the start of the pandemic are likely to accelerate this year as we grapple with fresh restrictions on movement likely to last well into the spring.

“It is going to be a choppy 12 months for the entire luxury sector as consumers move away from frivolous spending and concentrate on pure survival mechanisms. The harsh reality, though, is there will be winners and losers across all categories. What firms do next counts.”

Brightpearl has distilled the data into a new report on the habits, categories and spending of shoppers over the next 12 months.

Brightpearl said it works with thousands of retailers introducing new software that puts orders, inventory, financials, POS (point of sale) and CRM (customer relationship management) in one place.