Economic Analysis of UK Apparel Industry During COVID-19 Pandemic

Explore the challenges, opportunities, and strategies adopted by apparel companies to navigate market shocks and ensure sustainability.

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Introduction of Economic Environment Of Business in UK Assignment

The economic environment is defined as different economic factors of external that contribute to influencing customer demand and the sales rate of a business efficiently. Economic environment analysis for a business is associated with analysing possible threats and challenges in continuous business practice to develop strategy and ensure sustainability in the existing market effectively. Investments decision, customer spending and analysis of expended profit and growth depend on significant factors of economic environments. In developing a business model and marketing practice with product lines, businesses have to analyse current market trends, customer demand, economic conditions, and market competition in this particular industry. This study is going to evaluate about economic environments of the apparel industry in the UK and global markets by analysing market size, market threads, and customers demand. This study emphasises the identification of different economic changes and evolution of apparel industry after COVID-19 pandemic situation to signify challenges and opportunities of apparel business in UK with utilisation of economic factors and their impacts on business practice.

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Explanation of appeal market

Market size and economic factor of appeal industry

According to the statistical report of Appeal Company in 2022, the market volume of the apparel industry in UK is above 53.9 pieces expected to enlarge volume by nearly 13.7% within 2023 and 4,371.3m pcs by 2027 to become a market leader in the apparel industry of global market. In 2020, the clothing and apparel company of the UK earned revenue of approximately US$73.38bn (Statista.com, 2022). Considering the sales rate of cloth and apparel in UK market, it has been noted that 94% of sales are associated with non-luxury products which indicated huge demand for non-luxury products from customers' demand in the apparel and clothing market. Relating to UK population in sales rate and revenue return of UK apparel industry, it has been identified that per capita revenues of $1.07k in 2022 and the apparel industry of UK products has earned approximately $312.00bn from US considering global presence.

Market trends

The apparel market of the UK plays a significant role in contributing to UK economy as well as global economy by increasing their market innovation and sales rate considering customers' demand. Apparel segments comparing other segments of clothing enabled to recovery from the economic downfall and market crisis created during the COVID-19 pandemic situation through producing products for private end customers that include several product lines such as Men’s Apparel, Women’s Apparel, and Children’s Apparel. However, handbags, watches and jewellery is not counted as important articles by clothing sectors considering more scopes of a high rate of sales and revenue return. As researched by Zhang et al. (2021), business practices and market trends of appeal companies in UK are concerned with analysing behaviour and attributable factors of customers to the developed product line and marketing processes that contribute to encouraging their business process concerning customers' requirements and customer satisfaction.

Apparel industry of UK mainly focused on cloth and shoes considering the product line of several reputed companies namely Uniqlo, Nike, H&M and ZARA to represent the valuable brand with high customer demand with a strategic implementation process that leads to encouraging economic growth of the appeal market and enlarging market volume in UK as well as global market. Additionally, there are many middle-sized, small, and large-size brands in UK market considering business practice at the national level and they are marketing through using general line and well-upgraded distribution channels that contribute to delivering multi-label products to reach customers' demands and requirements effectively. As cited by Anner (2020), "global value chains" and “global production networks" of the apparel industry are deals with significant challenges regarding the supply chain process that leads to makes changing situation for the global market. Considering these factors, the apparel industry of UK emphasises to use of AI in the supply chain process. Moreover, they try to use sustainable supply chain practices concerning the utilisation of recycling, reusing, and renewable energy generation practices to encourage worth and sustainability with effective market trends.

Customers demand

Customers' demand for apparel companies in UK is associated with implementing their shopping experience through making a comfortable journey. Customers of UK mainly prefer to purchase the best quality products at reasonable prices concerning their affordability and maintaining current trends. Considering those factors, apparel companies in UK emphasise developing upgraded and uniquely designed products to meet customers' demands and other requirements concerning current market trends. Frequent changes in the inflation rate in UK economy play a crucial role in changing customer demand day by day. As stated by Idrees et al. (2020), the increasing use of technology in this digital era is responsible for the increasing demand for e-commerce and online delivery service considering customers' expectations and requirements. Customers of UK prefer to collect products and shop through an online portal and apparel companies are using e-commerce in their marketing and delivery service which leads to achieving nearly $44.19bn in 2022 (Statista.com, 2022). The sales rate of women's garments in UK in 2022 is around $3.11bn imported from another country.

Exported men's garments in 2022 from UK are around $467m. Considering customer demand and sales rate of Apparel companies in UK, it can be stated that, the demand for women's products is more than for men's apparel. Customers in UK expect effective customer service that is concerned with quick responses to queries and complaints and recognisable offers for products. Appeal industry has adopted social media marketing and customer relationship practices for encouraging customer retention by increasing their involvement and satisfaction to increase sales rate. Maintaining the quality of product and service processes, they used customers' perspectives and market trends to learn their expectations that make their business practice more effective. As opined by Gazzola et al. (2020), changing social and economical factors such as customers' lifestyle and financial condition play a significant role in changing business practices, product lines and service processes regarding customers' behaviour and purchasing rate. In this aspect, apparel companies in the UK have emerging technology in their service and marketing practices to maintain supply and demand and generate a customer base.

Analyzing the impact of the market shock

The UK's GDP in August without any restriction grew by 0.4%, which was noticed between July and August 2021. However, at the time of limitation on February 2020, the GDP stayed at 8% for an extended period. In August 2021, the GDP rise by 0.3% in service and the remaining sectors have to suffer the same with a constant GDP rate that is 0.6%. The clothing sector has suffered a lot and has been a continuous downfall in sales due to the lockdown in the UK. The economy has dropped in online stores; on the other hand, the increase in online sales has made an effort to establish the economy in the clothing sector. The various methods such as luxury fashion brands have suffered due to the pandemic, and non-luxury items have made their way out for the development or establishment of the economy. Due to increases in inflation and unemployment, the clothing rates have also increased to their highest rate.

Monthly production output grew by 0.8% but remained 1.3% below its February 2020 level (Ons.gov.uk, 2022). The positive growth of GDP was approximately assumed to be 0.12% an increase in sales of clothing products analysed. The increase in the level of sales of women's and children's clothes has aimed to increase the growth of sales. The index of production as well as an index of production has fallen to 75 from 95 in the previous year. The manufacturing sector has also been considered in the loss as in the year 2020 the loss was incurred by 24 as was noticed 93 in 2020 and the year 2019 69. The retail, as well as wholesale business, has contributed up to 0.12% in the GDP growth the clothing has also flourished in the year 2019. The voluntary, as well as involuntary response and the change, is also been noticed in the goods and services consumer over the year. Unemployment during the pandemic has led to various mental as well as physical pressures and this led to a reduction in staff members. The reduction in the staff members was tough to be handled for the owners or the managers which lead to a reduction in sales. The majority of the sales have been accomplished through online processes as the lockdown in the nation has made the offline stores shut down. In the EU, the sales of non-food products dropped by 23.8% in April 2020 year-on-year (Ons.gov.uk, 2022). The nonfood products include retail in clothing. The downfall of this industry has reached 63.7 and has gradually increased after 3 months by 13.2; however, these were noticed in the month of march and July 2020. The largest downfall was observed in April 2020. There was a drop in every sector the drop concluded as 31.7 which was a huge drop as compared to recent years. Many industries sifted to work from home but the clothing industries and the stores have to face issues regarding sales.

The clothing sector remained closed due to various processes such as health issues and government orders for stopping the spread of the viral disease (Pasquali and Godfrey, 2022). The goods transportation was also a huge issue, as a result, the number of products was delayed and scarcity of clothing stores was common. Social activities have stopped so clothes purchasing were also reduced to its highest extent. The fashion brands as well as major online stores have also suffered a huge loss as the supply chain was highly affected by unemployment (Brydges et al. 2021). Consumer price inflation in the UK has already reached 3.1 per cent in Sep-21. This was expected growth by 1 % and reach 4% by December 2021. The textile and clothing industry followed economic shock during the pandemic. The textile and clothing industry has faced issues regarding consumer satisfaction as well as was it also faced issues in attracting effective consumers (Castañeda et al. 202l). They were intended to make strategies regarding consumer attraction as well as filling of bankruptcy was a major issue faced by the textile and clothing industries. The textile and clothing industry has been facing loss in the export market since 2018 and due to the pandemic apparel experts have diminished in recent years, especially in 2020. This has been an effective loss caused by the supply chain and this reduction lead to a decline of 41.2% in Jan 2021 (Chakraborty and Biswas, 2020). The export was facing issues regarding the VAT and customs duties in previous years. This has increased during the pandemic.

Conclusion

The pandemic has damaged many industries and the effect has lasted over a year. This had made various changes in industries as well as in different businesses. The change in the supply chain was also been done because this is a sector which cannot be conducted online. Many small parts of the supply chain can be conducted online but the major part of the need to be conducted offline. The clothing stores and retail clothing shops require a huge need for the products to be imported and exported. This was disturbed during the lockdown process as transportation and social activities stopped to maintain the rules as well as safety from the spread of corona. The government has ordered access only to essential products such as food and medicine. This has hampered the clothing business and this also leads to a decrease in sales and a reduction in employment. The employment reduction has led to an increase in the inflation rate. The GDP has reduced to its highest extent in April and May 2020. This has decreased up to 40% downfall in clothing stores as well as clothing shops. The export of the UK was suffering various issues in the past few years and the pandemic has increased the difficulties in the upcoming years.

Reference list

Journals

Anner, M., 2020. Squeezing workers’ rights in global supply chains: Purchasing practices in the Bangladesh garment export sector in comparative perspective. Review of international political economy, 27(2), pp.320-347. . DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09692290.2019.1625426

Brydges, T., Heinze, L., Retamal, M. and Henninger, C.E., 2021. Platforms and the pandemic: A case study of fashion rental platforms during COVID?19. The Geographical Journal, 187(1), pp.57-63. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/geoj.12366

Castañeda?Navarrete, J., Hauge, J. and López?Gómez, C., 2021. COVID?19’s impacts on global value chains, as seen in the apparel industry. Development Policy Review, 39(6), pp.953-970. Doi: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.1111/dpr.12539

Chakraborty, S. and Biswas, M.C., 2020. Impact of COVID-19 on the textile, apparel and fashion manufacturing industry supply chain: case study on a ready-made garment manufacturing industry. Journal of Supply Chain Management, Logistics and Procurement, 3(2), pp.181-199. Doi: https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/hsp/jscm/2020/00000003/00000002/art00007

Gazzola, P., Pavione, E., Pezzetti, R. and Grechi, D., 2020. Trends in the fashion industry. The perception of sustainability and circular economy: A gender/generation quantitative approach. Sustainability, 12(7), p.2809. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072809

Idrees, S., Vignali, G. and Gill, S., 2020. Technological advancement in fashion online retailing: a comparative study of Pakistan and UK fashion e-commerce. International Journal of Economics and Management Engineering, 14(4), pp.313-328. . DOI: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sadia-Idrees-2/publication/341070063_Technological-Advancement-in-Fashion-Online-Retailing-A-Comparative-Study-of-Pakistan-and-UK-Fashion-E-Commerce_1/links/5eaba97b45851592d6ae7445/Technological-Advancement-in-Fashion-Online-Retailing-A-Comparative-Study-of-Pakistan-and-UK-Fashion-E-Commerce-1.pdf

Pasquali, G. and Godfrey, S., 2022. Governance of Eswatini apparel regional value chains and the implications of Covid-19. The European journal of development research, 34(1), pp.473-502. Doi: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41287-021-00383-3

Zhang, B., Zhang, Y. and Zhou, P., 2021. Consumer attitude towards sustainability of fast fashion products in the UK. Sustainability, 13(4), p.1646. . DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041646

Websites

Statista.com (2022), Apparel - United Kingdom, Available from: https://www.statista.com/outlook/cmo/apparel/united-kingdom#:~:text=Revenue%20in%20the%20Apparel%20market,US%2440.60bn%20in%202022. Accessed on: 01.12.202

Statista.com (2022), Apparel market in the United Kingdom (UK) - statistics & facts, Available from: https://www.statista.com/topics/3348/apparel-market-in-the-uk/#topicHeader__wrapper Accessed on: 01.12.2022

Ons.gov.uk, 2022. Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on retail ... Available at:https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/grossdomesticproductgdp/articles/impactofthecoronaviruscovid19pandemiconretailsalesin2020/2021-01-28 [Accessed on 30/11/2022]

ons.gov.uk, 2022. Coronavirus and the impact on output in the UK economy ... Available at:https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/grossdomesticproductgdp/articles/coronavirusandtheimpactonoutputintheukeconomy/august2021#:~:text=August%20was%20the%20first%20full,most%20recent%20month%20not%20significantly [Accessed on 30/11/2022]

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