You will find here the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the fashion industry in China. Statistics, trends, consumers behavior : find out what to expect in China in 2022.
China is now the biggest fashion market in the world. It is continuing to expand at an exponential rate. With the rapid urbanization and the increasing purchasing power of the consumers, both high-tier and low-tier are seeing impressive growth.
COVID-19 has affected retailers around the world but China controlled very well the pandemic, and fashion stores resumed their operations, ready-to-wear and accessories saw a quick recovery in 2021 after a strong decline in 2020, reaching value sales exceeding the pre-pandemic level in 2019. Riding on the ongoing healthy living trend, sportswear kept on recording impressive momentum and outperformed the average industry growth.
As stated before, the Chinese market was by far the best performer in the world in 2021, as its economy recovered much faster than the rest of the world. In 2022, the industry’s growth will be driven by both China, while Europe and the US lag behind and definitely need the return of international tourism to reach the volume of sales pre-pandemic.
We predict a 5 to 10 % sales growth in China in 2022 compared with 2019. Europe, on the other hand, will continue to suffer from the effects of declining tourist arrivals, leading in 2022 to a 3 to 5% sales decline from 2020.
Key statistics of the fashion e-commerce industry in China:
Revenue in the Fashion market (apparel, footwear and accessories) is projected to reach US$312,000 million in 2022.
China's online retail sales of apparel grew 14.1% Year-on-Year in the January-October 2021 period, hitting 3% average growth over the past two years, official statistics showed.
Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (from 2022 to 2025) of 5%, resulting in a forecasted market volume of US$362,000 million by 2025.
In the Fashion market, the number of shoppers is expected to amount to 819.7m by 2025.
User penetration will be 45% in 2022 and is expected to hit 56% by 2025.
The average revenue per fashion consumer is expected to amount to US$480.
To give you an idea of how big the Chinese market is, it makes sense to look at the figures of the main e-commerce player in China: Alibaba. Alibaba’s performance last year is truly remarkable: the e-commerce platform increased its consumer reach by over 140 million, reaching over 1 billion active consumers in just 12 months.
But how did physical stores perform in 2021 in China?
The main sales channels for the fashion industry in China include department stores, specialty stores and online platforms. Almost 50% of fashion consumers still shop in physical stores because they can feel the texture of the products and try them on if necessary. A secondary reason is that they can make sure quality of the product matches their expectation.
Fashion trends in China for 2022
So what can we expect this year? Clothing and footwear in China is very fragmented, with both local and international fashion brands competing in different price ranges. Under the impact of COVID-19, consumers’ habits changed: They now spend more time at home, leading to increasing relaxation of dress codes and the prevalence of working from home attire, which means that sweatshirts and jogging bottoms saw very impressive results.
How do Chinese fashion retailers adapt?
After the sales downturn in 2020, retail channels (especially brick-and-mortar stores), started to recover in a steady manner throughout 2021, in line with the proactive channel revolution by clothing and accessories players to get the most out of traffic to physical stores. With the shift in shoppers behaviour post-COVID 19, and to better-equip offline channels with the ability to combat unexpected events such as extreme weather and natural disasters, fashion retailers are adapting to new levels of operational efficiency pursuits in a consumer-oriented manner.
The COVID‑19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new technologies. When stay‑at‑home orders made it harder for consumers to do shopping in stores, we saw a lot of brands that launched “virtual fittings”, where consumers could try fitting at home using online meetings and 3D body scanning technology. Once again, China is at the forefront of technological innovation to boost fashion sales.
How will the Beijing Olympics impact the fashion market in China?
With the long awaited Winter Olympic Games hosted in Beijing, winter clothing and sportswear brands will see extraordinary sales opportunities, but also awareness raised and increased consumer attention for this market segment. The segmented sportswear industry in China, and especially winter sportswear, will be buoyed by the growing public attention and consumer base.
Official figures show that Chinese retail sales of sportswear grew 7.3% year‑on‑year to RMB252.3 billion in 2020. Chinese people spent a lot more time at home and became more concerned with their health during the pandemic. As a result, we could see that many chose to exercise more. According to a 2021 report on China’s sports and fitness industry, there are now over 435 million people who do sports on a regular basis, an increase of 28 million on 2019.
How does the luxury fashion industry perform in China?
The growth of the luxury market is lead by second, third and fourth tier cities in China. As a result , 88% of China’s luxury growth driven by new consumers. China’s luxury fashion market in 2021 is being propelled by 1.5 million shoppers who each spend more than 40,000 yuan ($6,255) per year on fashion-related luxury products. As a category, they are make up to 81% of the sector’s total sales over the past 12 months, according to official sources. One group of shoppers has made a huge impact : Generation Z consumers, entered the luxury category and they represent 40% of the industry growth.
However, we must say that the Chinese Gen-Z consumers have a very different shopping behavior from their predecessors when it comes to luxury purchases. Whereas a decade ago, 90% of Chinese luxury consumers would have first purchased leather goods, today’s Gen-Z consumers are more likely to first buy a ready-to-wear item. But we are not talking about a very expensive jacket from Chanel or a fancy dress from Dior, we are talking about a signature T-shirt from an up-and-coming designer. Fashion items in a price point below 10,000 yuan ($1,564) sold extremely well in 2021.
How to sell a fashion brand in China?
Statistics clearly show that China should be a priority for any fashion brand that is looking for new markets to tap into. The European market is slowing down and the upside is very limited. Plus, consumers are very conservative. The consumers behavior in China is very open minded and is very welcoming towards niche brands that have something special to offer. Because the revenues generated are extremely high, it also makes China one of the most competitive fashion industry in the world. Marketing campaigns can be very costly and the best approach for brands with a low budget remains the wholesale market. That is why we have set up an online showroom dedicated to Chinese buyers. It gives you the opportunity to get orders from top fashion retailers in China.