‘Cross-border clothing sales collapsed after Brexit’

British retailers and brands are not benefiting from the growing cross-border ecommerce spending on the other side of the Channel. Especially providers of clothing and footwear have seen their sales in continental Europe drastically decrease after Brexit.

This is evident from research by consultancy firm Retail Economics and Tradebyte, Zalando Group’s marketplace integrator. They calculate that the cross-border sales volume of clothing and footwear has dropped from 7.4 billion pounds in 2019 to 2.7 billion pounds in 2023.

Declining interest and reduced activities

The drop of no less than 64 percent is the result of declining interest from European buyers and reduced online sales activities by retailers and brands from the United Kingdom. More so than the multinationals, British SMEs are suffering from the changed international playing field.

The trade volume decreased by 64% in four years.

The research “shows the extent to which complex regulations and red tape at the border have deterred firms from sending goods across the Channel,” concludes The Guardian. Across the board, sales of British non-food products to customers in continental Europe fell by 18 percent. The only sectors to increase export sales over the same period were health and beauty, and DIY and gardening, offsetting some of the fall from clothing and footwear.

Cross-border ecommerce in Europe

Meanwhile, online spending in Europe is increasing again after a stabilization period, with shoppers spending a growing portion of their budget in shops from other countries. A development that Asos, which initially thought it would profit from Brexit, and other British online players are now not riding along.

“Online retail is estimated to add 323 billion pounds of annual sales to EU economies, but additional trade frictions caused by Brexit-related complexities are curtailing this international sales opportunity for UK-based brands and retailers”, the report states.


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