Although designer apparel and footwear had been seeing retail volume declines for several years, in 2020 sales plummeted, with a slower decline in current value terms due to price rises. Declines were seen in all categories, which can be attributed mainly to the closure of all apparel and footwear stores, including luxury stores, during the COVID-19 lockdown that was put in place by the South African government from March 2020.
However, it was not just the closure of stores that had an impact on the category. Another factor hampering growth was the travel restrictions, with the number of arrivals falling dramatically due to the closure of borders.
Surtee Group continued to hold a strong lead in designer apparel and footwear in South Africa in value terms in 2019, although the category is highly fragmented beyond this player. Surtee Group is well-known, and is often the partner of choice for luxury brands to introduce their products to Africa.
Designer apparel and footwear is set to slowly recover its value sales as control is gained over COVID-19, both globally and locally. The local designer apparel and footwear category is to a large extent reliant on non-locals to make up a high volume of shoppers, with about half of sales attributed to international retail expenditure in 2019, before the pandemic hit.
Designer apparel and footwear brands may have seen strong sales declines during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the strong heritage and legacies that these brands have will contribute to their slow recovery over the forecast period. The high margins placed on designer apparel and footwear brands and strong control of their supply chains assisted with their survival during the long periods of store closures, which will therefore make them more resilient in the wake of the pandemic.
In the review period, associations of celebrities and influencers with designer apparel and footwear brands helped to maintain customers’ interest in luxury brands. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, store closures, changes in consumers’ values and a locally grimmer economic reality than before, less brand interest could be expected.
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Understand the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the Designer Apparel and Footwear (Ready-to-Wear) industry in South Africa with research from Euromonitor International's team of in-country analysts – experts by industry and geographic specialisation.
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This report originates from Passport, our Designer Apparel and Footwear (Ready-to-Wear) research and analysis database.
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