Coronavirus and the Textiles Industry: What’s Happening?
The COVID-19 outbreak is everywhere right now – it’s on our minds; our television screens; our favourite apps and websites and plastered all over social media. But, with so many messages vying for our attention, we may be missing some consequences.
Let’s take a look at how it’s affecting the textiles industry right now…
It’s been estimated the clothing and footwear sector in the UK is going to be hardest hit. Forecasts are already suggesting that sales will be down £11bn in comparison to last year. If you take a look at the news, you can already see this starting to play out. Last year, highstreet favourite, River Island, launched an ethical womenswear label called Harpenne, which has now had to permanently stop trading.
Something I'm sure you can identify with, is the significant shift in consumer shopping habits, which has happened. With the current closure of all but essential stores, many of us have turned to online shopping for home and fashion items and subscription services, such as Bloom and Wild. Sales of menswear and footwear are down, while sales of items like loungewear and pjs are up, which makes sense since we're spending so much time at home! However, there is a slow but evident shift into the ‘recession mentality’, with some many of us being on furlough and reduced job security.
But it isn’t just retailers who are affected by these changes. The Arcadia Group (the umbrella brand behind Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge) has cancelled an estimated £100m worth of clothing orders from suppliers worldwide - hitting their suppliers and distributors hard.
This is where it really gets scary.
Major garment producing countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam rely on global retailers like Arcadia for economic security. It’s estimated that over 1 million of the world’s lowest paid workers will have lost their jobs or been sent home without pay due to order cancellations and suspensions like these. For some employees, this could be devastating, so it’s not surprising that the industry is doing everything it can to balance this out.
But it doesn’t have to be all bad news. There’s potential for the industry and its businesses to come together in a time of need to do good.
For example, online retailer ‘Rixo’ has released a 30% off sale on their website www.rixo.co.uk dedicated to helping shift stock for the small businesses in their supply chain. There are also a number of key players in the industry doing their bit to help – ASOS have sold out of their range of NHS charity pieces twice, the proceeds of which have been matched and donated to ASOS UK’s local hospitals.
In the words of the UKFT, “now is the time for us all to work closely together to support and sustain each other.” Find out how you can help yourself and others in our industry at https://www.ukft.org/coronavirus/.
At Virgo & Co the team are dedicated to supporting all our stakeholders – from supply chain to our end customers. If you have any questions about how we are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, please get in touch.