December is all about advent and the countdown to Christmas - with Christmas and December trading being so important for retail and vital to the long term financial health of so many companies we’ve decided to dive into our Mallzee Insights data to use advent as an excuse to review some of the top trends and insights we’ve seen over the last 12 months and look at how these trends will impact 2019.
So let’s get started with our 12 insights,
1) Animal Prints were the biggest trend of the year
2018 may have been the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Calendar but in fashion terms it was the year of all animals - animal prints that is! The graph below shows the growth in volume of animal print clothing being brought to market since 2016.
Percentage of animal print items being brought to market
Mallzee Performance Score For All Animal Prints
The graph above illustrates how consumers have been ranking animal print products since 2016, using the Mallzee Performance Score (MPS) which is the percentage of total positive interactions on a product. Their love of all things animal print really spiked during the first quarter of 2018 and has dropped since indicating that the trend is starting to fall out of favor.
2) Vote or No Vote, Deal or No Deal
Brexit dominated 2018 and the fashion industry was no exception.On one hand consumer uncertainty around what BREXIT means, contributed to a general decrease in consumer confidence and reduced spending and on the other side, the retail fashion industry knows it faces huge changes but cannot plan and mitigate against these until the final BREXIT deal is agreed.
For example the UK imports almost £10 billion worth of clothes and shoes from Europe each year and more than 10,000 European staff work in the British fashion industry. Not to mention the possible port queues delaying shipments of both materials and finished products, new VAT rules that mean importers will have to pay their 20 per cent upfront, and potential delays at immigration for foreign buyers - all add an extra level of complexity to an already troubled industry.
3) Meghan Markle
From the minute the Suits actress was linked to Prince Harry her every outfit was scrutinised and copied. According to Mallzee Insights data Meghan Markle and Kendall Jenner were the two most influential style icons of 2018 - with their clothing choices being the most searched for in the app.
The discounting trend continued to grow in 2018 - with an average of 62% of high street fashion being sold in 2018 at a discounted price at some point in their life cycle. The volume of products being sold at a reduced price in 2018 was significantly higher than in previous years although it has been dropping since August and has actually sat lower than the 2016 and 2017 figures for the last couple of months. Is this the first sign that retailers are realising that discounting isn’t always the answer and there are other ways to grow sales or clear stock?
Percentage of products on sale monthly
5) Retail Casualties
In our look ahead to 2018 we predicted there would be a big casualty in the department store world. This was based on looking at how consumer habits had shifted and how this model hadn’t yet adapted. When House of Fraser collapsed it was a huge blow for the industry with many suppliers losing a lot of cash and many people losing their jobs through store closures and head office restructuring.
Debenhams was another department store chain that struggled in 2018 but as we head towards 2019 Debenhams is focusing on an ambitious turnaround plan with their new store format and a focus on their own brands to generate a unique position in the market.
Boohoo were the retail fashion success story of 2018.Whilst much of the retail fashion sector struggled with rising costs and lowered consumer spending, Boohoo thrived due to their clever combination of direct to consumer online marketplace and their fast (low cost) fashion offering. Boohoo doubled sales in 2018 and is now valued on the AIM at over £2 billion.
It wasn’t all celebrations for Boohoo as they have just had their knuckles rapped for breaking Advertising Standards Authority rules over their use of a discount countdown timer on their site that reset each time it reaches zero, making consumers think they had a limited time to buy when in fact it was merely an ongoing marketing ploy.
7) Love Island
The hit show of 2018 also spawned a whole new trend in swimwear (and even a new word) - the thongkini - a hybrid between a bikini and a thong. Searches for this type of swimwear really spiked in July when not only was Love Island being aired nightly but the UK was basking in one of the hottest heatwaves on record.
Missguided really rode the Love Island wave with their headline sponsorship slot of the show and basked in a 40% bump in sales!
8) Nike vs Adidas
We predicted that Nike would overtake adidas as the most popular sports brand in our 2018 predictions. Whilst this hasn’t come to fruition yet - Nike significantly closed the gap.The graph below shows the popularity of Nike compared to adidas over the last two years, based on the MPS - Mallzee Performance Score, which is the average percentage of positive interactions on a product, as you can see Nike has closed the popularity gap in recent months. It’s worth noting however that both brands have seen significant decrease in popularity in 2018, are the sneaker giants losing popularity amongst sneaker fashionistas in favor of more niche brands?
9) The "dad-trainer" trend
2018 was the year of the ugly trainer - with sleek Stan Smith styles being replaced by chunky, some might say ‘ugly’ dad style trainers. The graph below shows the sharp rise in the volume of chunky trainers brought to market throughout 2018.
Of interest in this overview from our data is the timing when retailers released their own versions of the Ugly Sneaker! Timing is key on a trend like this and it appears some might just have missed hitting that sweet spot.
10) The fashion industry got real
With more plus sized models featuring in advertising and a wider range of product sizes being available..According to our data, in 2017 only 8% of brands offered a plus sized range whereas in 2018 this has grown to 23%. Fast fashion brands such as Boohoo and Missguided offer clothing from sizes 6 to 24 and in 2018 started using a combination of different sized models in their advertising.
11) All about the weather
The UK weather turned extreme with the Beast from the East cold-spell followed by the long hot summer of 2018.Whilst the Beast From The East brought the UK to a standstill in February it provided a welcome boost for the sale of winter clothing for those who had correctly anticipated it and had winter clothing in stock.The graph below shows the spike in the MPS for winter jackets during this period (MPS represents the positive interactions on a product).
12) A year to celebrate
2018 has been one helluva year for Mallzee - so to conclude our Mallzee fashion facts here’s some of our own stats. We introduced almost 2,000 products per day to the app, to date we’ve generated over 500 million product ratings on more than 3 million products for our retail partners and we drank 3,132 cups of tea in the Mallzee office but lost count of the latte runs.