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Focus on Schoolwear


What will 2021 look like? Q


2020 was a write-off for many school children, with the vast majority of pupils in the UK having only attended for the first three months of the year. P&P editor Melanie Attlesey spoke to three heavyweights of the schoolwear industry to find out what 2021 will look like in a post-COVID-19 world for schoolwear retailers.


What trends should schoolwear retailers be aware of for the season ahead?


Kathryn Shuttleworth, managing director, David Luke: The rapid acceleration we have just seen in online and digital adoption, seems to have been closely followed by a growth in ‘conscious shopping’. More people are searching for products and brands that can give them confidence in making the right buying choice, socially and environmentally. Recent McKinsey research into sustainable fashion sentiment, showed around 60% of respondents had made changes to their buying habits and packaging expectations during the COVID crisis, to minimise their environmental impact. At David Luke, we have been committed to reducing the environmental impact of the school uniform we produce, and we believe there is a growing number of end users who feel the same way.


Matt Clark, sales and marketing director, Rowlinson Knitwear: Despite the coronavirus pandemic, schoolwear retailers rose to the challenge and offered new ways to deliver their products and services, by accelerating their use of digital technologies. The big question now is whether this is a one-off response to the pandemic, or the beginning of a trend to


| 58 | October 2020


transition online more widely. Combined with more widespread availability of online shopping, the net result impacted basket spend and frequency of online shopping, as well as giving parents the opportunity to buy school uniform much sooner than if they were reliant on a store visit. This hybrid of online and in-store experience with pre-booked timeslots for fitting and click-and-collect order collection reflects wider trends in shopping habits and represents a step forward that we hope will continue to develop.


Matthew Easter, group CEO, Trutex: After such a tumultuous year, 2021 should in one respect be a return to more normal business patterns, assuming the direct impacts of COVID become less extreme. Having said this, the collateral damage that this pandemic will cause on the wider UK economy has yet to be fully understood or felt, and this will undoubtedly affect all sectors to a greater or lesser degree. In the case of school uniform, the normal pressures are likely to remain the same, which in turn reinforces the need to emphasise the quality benefits and credibility of products from schoolwear specialists. As uniform does not generally change like fashion, buying products that wash and wear better in the first place is still the best value option for parents in the long term.


www.printwearandpromotion.co.uk


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