Retailers must act fast to satisfy sustainability-seeking shoppers, says GlobalData

The overwhelming majority of UK consumers believe that retailers should be acting sustainably – but almost 80% think retailers are not doing enough to address issues around sustainability and climate change, according to GlobalData.

The date and analytics company’s latest report – ‘UK Sustainability 2019’ – reveals that those consumers who are most likely to purchase more frequently are often more engaged with sustainability and ethics, as many wish to pass the responsibility onto retailers.

For instance, 82.3% of consumers aged 16-24 agree that retailers should make an effort to source materials sustainably and ethically in clothing & footwear. However, these young individuals may be the ones who are less able to make changes, due to the often higher price points associated with sustainable and/or ethical products.

GlobalData retail analyst Emily Salter commented: “The ‘war against plastic’ gained huge public awareness from the BBC’s ‘Blue Planet 2’ documentary, which showed the enormous damage that plastic is having on the marine environment and animals.

“A number of retailers, in particular grocers such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer, quickly reacted to this growing consumer interest by reducing use of single-use plastics. There are further opportunities for grocers to gain share and consumer trust based on their plastic credentials. For instance, 66.3% of consumers said they make an effort to purchase food without plastic packaging, so more plastic-free options should be explored.”

She added: “Retailers have tried to tap into this demand for more sustainable items, such as H&M continuing to extend its Conscious Collection, PrettyLittleThing launching its Recycled collection, and Primark introducing garments made from sustainable materials. However, fast fashion is inherently environmentally unsustainable. More sustainable and ethical options are growing in popularity, including dedicated retailers, slow fashion, and resale apps. Clothing retailers could capitalise upon this trend by launching rental services, as well as online second-hand marketplaces.”

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