For young adults, heading back to school and college, this time normally represents a high spending time and wardrobe overhauls — it’s a long-standing tradition for many. This year, however, with inflation continuing to loom over back-to-school shopping, U.S. consumers are having to evaluate priorities and many wonder if they will be able to afford to stand on ceremony.
To better understand its own Gen Z community, Shein surveyed 2,500 customers to see how inflation and the rising cost of living in the U.S. will impact their behaviors.
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Findings from the survey largely show that a majority of shoppers are on high alert due to the impacts of inflation (89 percent) but do not want to sacrifice purchasing new apparel items altogether and will instead be looking to mitigate purchases by focusing on lower cost alternatives and reuse items.
After noticing a cost of living increase this year, 87 percent of respondents said they have changed to more affordable brands. And 87 percent of consumers said if the cost of living continues to rise, they will plan to purchase apparel items mainly during sales.
“Our recent survey of Shein customers reaffirmed what we have always believed,” said George Chiao, U.S. president of Shein. “Consumers want trendy, quality products at affordable prices, especially in tough economic times. Because of inflation, respondents worry about the increasing cost of living’s impact on their finances [but] at the same time, they still want to look and feel their best, so they are turning more to affordable retailers like Shein and re-wearing items already in their closets.”
According to the company’s findings, 89 percent of consumers plan to spend less money on clothing — although 65 percent said they plan to continue to prioritize apparel items even if the cost of living continues to rise. Additionally, 83 percent of respondents also said they plan to wear items they already own instead of purchasing clothing for special events if the cost of living continues to rise.
Despite growing concerns about inflation, Chiao told WWD that the company “hasn’t noticed any significant change in Shein customers’ shopping behavior,” pointing to the survey findings, which reveal that a majority of respondents have turned to more affordable retailers.
“We have seen an uptick in sales of non-apparel products, such as our beauty and skin care brand SheGlam, and lifestyle, home decor and housewares,” Chiao said. “This finding shows that customers want trendy, quality and affordable products in many different areas of their lives.”
At the same time, as all consumers face the challenge of rising costs, Chiao notes that Shein has been a resource for customers of all ages trying to mitigate costs.
“It is a common misconception that Shein only has products for younger consumers,” he said. “We have affordable, quality and on-trend products for all ages and demographics, which is essential during this time of high inflation. Our mission is to make affordable fashion, beauty and lifestyle products accessible to everyone. We will continue to expand our offerings to help customers look and feel confident as they head back to school or return to the office.”
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