Tesco is to become the first supermarket to sell clothes on the internet, a move expected to send shockwaves through the UK fashion industry. The store giant will sell around three hundred items of women’s clothing online and retail experts said the move, planned for late October, would worry other fashion brands in the all-important period before Christmas. It is the latest bid by supermarkets to muscle in on the lucrative clothing market, and demands a response from rival supermarkets Asda and Sainsbury’s, who both have own label ranges that are sold in-store but not online. Asda has already announced plans to launch a similar service next year.
Professor Leigh Sparks, an expert in retail studies from Stirling University, warned that the move appeared to be timed to have maximum impact on the competition. He said the timing was interesting because internet sales peak at Christmas although he made clear that there is a downside; customers worry about whether orders placed around Christmas will arrive in time – especially in light of the current wave of postal strikes. He added that Tesco was unlikely to draw shoppers from high fashion outlets, because its clothing range had a different target purchaser.
Tesco photograph by exfordy, used under a creative commons licence