Retailers, beware: Large-scale events are back, and they’re

Bureau of Statistics, as of June 2022 household discretionary spending rose 10.8 per cent. This spike in discretionary spending in the face of inflation, and other cost of living pressures, poses big questions to retailers who are gun-shy and cautious after the last tough years – especially around holding stock. 

However, the biggest risk in the current landscape is to take no risk at all. Just being ‘out there’ is becoming a trend in itself. So, how should retailers respond?

An accessory takeover

As large-scale capacity events make a comeback, so too are some desirable accessories. Blasts from the past, such as handbags, once replaced by smartphones, are returning in a refreshing almost post-war revival. It’s no longer form or function – it’s about style. It’s about being out in crowds, having fun and feeling good.

Make way for the bold statement fashion bag. And it’s not just purses that are driving the ‘more’ factor. Jewellery is getting bigger and is no longer just a feminine indulgence. Men too are a growing group of jewellery consumers. Celebrities such as Travis Barker and other poster boys of bling such as Harry Styles are driving a more adventurous sense of cool.

Unexpected inspiration? Netflix

While consumers are being more audacious with their spending now freedom to frolic is here, they are also being savvier with how they choose to spend their money. Accessories are trumping clothing – a quick easy way to look and feel better, without a total wardrobe overhaul. The ‘Lipstick Factor’ heralds smaller purchases of quality and meaning. The Spring/Summer season just round the corner points to the fun and flighty.

Consumers are stocking up on eyewear, bodywear jewellery, and surprisingly, clip-on earrings. Face jewels and long ago era excesses are finding their way into the party season shopping habits of viewers of runaway small screen hits such as Bridgerton, the binge smash of the lockdowns now behind us. The Netflix, streaming and social media era of yore has skewed trends in more ways that retailers understand yet. For example, who knew that a 2022 Kate Bush resurgence courtesy of streaming favourite, Stranger Things, would drive hundreds to Sydney Park, all donning flowing red dresses in? 

The rebirth of the festival season is bringing forth a busy season of music events and whether it’s glamourous gumboots for much loved mud-filled festivals, fascinators for race meetings, clutches for end of year formals, or inexpensive silver star-like bindis for a bit of bling. It’s very clear that consumers in their droves are itching not just to get out, but to feel good about doing it and expressing themselves in any way possible. 

Cross contamination of categories

Evidence of this is the blurring of lines between activewear and fashion, and who better to demonstrate this than Pip Edwards and her brand, P.E.Nation. The brand is currently sitting pretty somewhere between catwalk and treadmill, and now conveniently located in their new central Sydney CBD Flagship store.

At home exercise equipment such as yoga mats and scratch bands have become household items after we transformed our lounge rooms into mini gyms, causing activewear and fitness accessories to soar. For many retailers, accessories and small purchases are heading towards pre-pandemic numbers – sunglasses, hats, and earrings included. So too is the resurgence of buying multiples – perhaps the ultimate blend of post-pandemic old school conservatism and the bubbling excitement at the first real summer season of events in years.

Brands and suppliers should prepare ahead of a resurging event calendar in what is anticipated to be the comeback season of all comeback seasons. After almost three years of COVID-19 interruptions and lockdowns, life is rolling back in at a pace faster than retailers can manage. Fashion styling is experiencing a revival to rival the onset of Instagram and it’s not just celebrities driving demand. It’s your customers.