As the high street continues to suffer from the fallout of the economic downturn, online sales in the fashion sector continue to beat expectations. Leading designer clothing store Republic.co.uk reported record a 35% increase in website sales during the 12 weeks up to the New Year.
The online store saw traffic increase 46% on the same period last year and Boxing Day saw the largest number of sales for any day in 2009. According to Chief Executive Tim Whitworth, the results came against a challenging backdrop and represented the outcome of hard work to develop Republic’s online offer over the year as a whole:
“Without doubt our Christmas trading performance capped another successful and record breaking year for Republic. The market conditions and prior year performance of the business (which in itself was a record) indicated that securing such strong growth over the key Christmas 2009 period would be challenging
We worked hard to exceed our customers’ expectations with our unique range of ‘must-have’ fashion. Invested in further developments to enhance the online shopping offering…I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone at Republic along with our extended partners for their commitment in the Republic brand
Despite the wider economic challenges the unique market position, strong cash generation and talented team behind the brand will ensure 2010 continues the strong track record of growth”
The importance of online channels to retailers is no longer disputed. In Republic’s case, the website took more money on a higher margin than any of their high street outlets. The website itself also achieved a listing on Hitwise’s Top 10 Lifestyle – Fashion websites.
Whilst these achievements reflect Republic’s own efforts to create an exciting online fashion brand, they also reflect a wider rise in online activity. Internet retailing body the IMRG report that £102 million was spent online on Christmas Day itself in 2008, which demonstrates how firmly the convenience of online retailing has taken root in the public consciousness.
The fashion sector in particular has been at the forefront of innovation in terms of bringing its products to the market through online channels. Video “catwalks” are increasingly being used to display products in a more effective way than traditional product photography, aided by the widespread adoption of faster broadband technology.
So while times might be tough on the high street for traditional retailers, companies like Republic are demonstrating that the web can go a long way to bolster revenues and build market share.
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