UK faces leisurewear shortage after work from home pushes up demand

Tony Diver
·2-min read
More fitness training during the pandemic contributed to a spike in demand, research has suggested - Joseph Branston/Future via Getty Images
More fitness training during the pandemic contributed to a spike in demand, research has suggested - Joseph Branston/Future via Getty Images

The UK is facing a leisurewear shortage after the nation traded office attire for comfortable clothing during lockdown, a new analysis has found.

Fashion retailers said they had experienced an explosion in demand for trainers, jogging bottoms and leggings as the country eschewed suits and high heels and began working from home.

The spike in popularity for comfortable clothes coincided with issues with supply chains, as factories in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia were forced to close, the fashion analysis firm Edited found.

One retailer said he received less than half of the quantity of products he ordered during the pandemic, with brands forced to ration their stocks across the country.

The news comes after the online retail giant Asos reported a worldwide shortage of trainers, jogging bottoms and hoodies.

Shirt and suit retailer TM Lewin meanwhile fell into administration in July and announced it would close all stores following a fall in demand for workwear.   Nick Beighton, Asos’ CEO, said it was “working hard to make sure we have supply” despite an “airpocket” in supply caused by factory closures.

The shortages could last until the spring as factories in Asia slowly return to capacity, he said.

Cases in Bangladesh and Pakistan have fallen since the first peak of the virus, but they continue to increase in Indonesia, which produces much of the UK’s fashion clothing.

In South East Asia, official figures from Thailand and Vietnam show case numbers are now very low.

The quantity of sportswear sold out online over the past month has increased by 17 per cent compared with last year, and retailers fear problems will be exacerbated by a second lockdown and the cancellation of the Prime Minister’s directive for office workers to return to work.

Official government guidance now asks the public once again to work from home if they can.