Retail Really is F*cked

Bloomberg has published an exhaustive – and fascinating – study on why, in 2018, Americans are spending half of what they once were on apparel (spoiler: it has nothing to do with Amazon).

Titled “The Death of Clothing,” the report, which is rife with interactive charts, easy-to-read graphs, and lots of other handy visuals, explains some of the macro problems plaguing an industry that’s spirit animal is currently that starving polar bear from that viral video.

One of the more unexpected culprits, the story says, is Casual Fridays. Or, more broadly, Casual Weekdays. As the workplace dress-code became increasingly informal across nearly all industries (up 10 percent over five years), the story noted that “Americans increasingly need just one wardrobe, because there is so little differentiation between what people wear to work and on the weekends.”

Fast fashion is another offender. For just about ever, prices of clothing — like the rest of anything that costs money — climbed over time, but fast fashion has eroded that inflation, as consumers have been “trained” to buy more for less. A pair of Levi’s 501s, the story explains, “used to steadily climb, but no longer. They cost $58 in 2009, then rose to $64 three years later, only to fall back down to $59.50 last year.”

Also playing a part in the demise, are the rise of social media influencers, who have diffused the taste making population to a degree that’s clearly gobsmacked traditional gatekeepers. And, the fall of e-comm start-ups that once claimed to “be the future of retail,” like NastyGal.

And as long as all of those factors are in play, the “problem of weak demand [will continue] to dog the apparel industry for years, meaning more store closures and more bankruptcies lie ahead — with or without Amazon.”

You can read more about it at Bloomberg.

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