Te Whanganui -a-Tara – This year there are specific challenges to the traditional festive gift-buying season.
Despite inflation and shortages, Black Friday sales are rising in countries free of lockdowns. The bad news for retailers is that customer loyalty is waning in the search for bargains.
This year, the flow of products into the shops and online retailers is being disrupted by widely publicised supply chain problems because of covid.
But urgent action is needed to make the fashion industry more sustainable. An estimated 70 percent of CO2 emissions are generated by a cotton t-shirt in washing and drying it.
The global fashion industry has been labelled by many as unsustainable. Experts say people only need to wash their jeans once a month, to save water.
According to the United Nations, nearly 20 percent of the world’s wastewater is produced by the fashion industry and it’s responsible for around 10 percent of global emissions.
Add to that the concern around microplastics from clothing entering the ocean and you get some sense of where this label has come from.
The world cannot afford the trajectory of fashion increasing to as much as 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and that’s the trajectory the planet is on.
There’s a real urgency to shift but there are important questions to answer. How do we take out fossil fuels from the fashion industry?
The change needs to be radical. The world has to reduce production and consumption of fashion by between 75 percent and 95 percent.
There’s a responsibility on the consumer as well as producers. People don’t need 20 t-shirts. There needs to be less buying with more sense of responsibility.
People need to understand that even a single t-shirt costs 2700 litres of water to produce, which is two-and-half-years of drinking water for one person.
Meanwhile, inflation is on the rise and some countries are experiencing a shortage of truck drivers. In the European Union, new lockdowns in response to surging covid case numbers are a challenge to retailers.
But some shortages that were forecasted have either failed to materialize or have been less acute than feared, thanks largely to both retailers and shoppers starting their seasonal buying earlier than usual.
Black Friday, now a fixture in the New Zealand retail calendar and around the globe, has morphed from a single day of price reductions to a month-long festival of special offers.
A survey of 2100 Black Friday shoppers in the US by McKinsey predicts that fourth quarter retail sales in the US will be seven percent higher than 2020 and nine percent above the level for 2019, before the pandemic started.
McKinsey found that social media is now the biggest single influence on US consumers’ holiday buying decisions. In the case of younger buyers, social media inspires 80 percent of their purchases.
The World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness report 2020 foresaw the long-term impact of the pandemic on supply chains and called on business leaders and governments to lay the foundations for strategic local resilience in supply chains.
It remains to be seen whether confidence alone will overcome the challenges to this year’s busiest retail season.