Consumers are reducing spending on non-essential goods such as apparel and footwear because of Covid-19, but they are making more use of the internet for their purchase during the lockdown, developing new habits and creating new opportunities for the brands, based on research conducted by McKinsey & Company.

Surveys conducted by McKinsey at the beginning of April clearly indicated that 70 percent of European and 64 percent of American consumers were planning to cut their overall spending on footwear. Similar ratios were found in the consumption of apparel. Even in China, one month after the end of the lockdown, consumers were planning to cut their purchases of apparel and shoes by 3 and 1 percent, respectively.

To a smaller degree, lower purchases of shoes and clothing have also been made over the internet, as indicated by major pure players such as Zalando. McKinsey pointed to the fact that Amazon’s sales of these products plunged by 43 percent year-on-year during the March 8-22 period.

On the other hand, online penetration is certain to increase for suppliers and retailers after the pandemic. McKinsey’s surveys indicated that consumers in Europe and the U.S. were responding more to online and video content during the retail lockdowns, creating new opportunities for certain brands. They showed that 20 percent of the respondents said that they would use the time of the confinement to try new brands. Another 23 percent said they were finding inspirational content and personalized recommendations to be more important now for making their choices.

Overall, 13 percent of the respondents said they had been driven to online shopping across any product categories for the first time, and 14 percent indicated that they will shop less offline after the crisis. Among internet users, 20 percent said they would purchase more online and 22 percent said they would browse for inspiration more often in the next four weeks.

McKinsey concluded that promotional campaigns can be effective at this time to engage consumers, as 52 percent of consumers have seen an increase in discounts offered over the internet as compared to a year ago. On the other hand, only 11 percent have started shopping on multi-brand online marketplaces.

McKinsey feels that Covid-19 is offering a major opportunity to engage consumers and to increase sales through the companies’ own e-commerce, generating higher margins. They can send more direct e-mails and notifications to consumers. In any cases, they should ensure that all communication takes the current situation into account.