Fast fashion shopping habits jump by 46% during first UK lockdown, study shows

Unsustainable shopping habits skyrocketed during lockdown as search engine queries for ‘cheap clothes’ increased by 46.3% between March and June, a new study shows. 

The Cheapest Countries Study, created by Pink Casino, analyses the frequency and range of money-saving searches made across the nation, to reveal which regions are the UK’s biggest bargain hunters when buying clothes online, and which deals are our favourite. 

The study found that Brits were looking to purchase cheap clothing during the first lockdown at almost double the frequency than before, while searches for ‘free trial’ and ‘free shipping’ increased by 31.6% and 22.2% respectively. 

England accounted for the majority of the increase in ‘cheap clothes’ searches, while Wales and Scotland led the way for the rise of ‘free shipping’ queries. Meanwhile, London accounted for the majority of searches for ‘free trial’. 

Fast fashion – or the practice of retailers mass producing clothing to be sold at a discounted price before being discarded- is a prevalent issue across the UK, with Brits found to be 98% more likely to search for ‘buy now pay later’ than secondhand clothing.

While London saw the biggest increase in cheap shopping habits during lockdown, it’s the North West who account for the majority of searches for apparel offers and deals, including ‘clothes sale’, ‘sales’, ‘buy now pay later’, and ‘discount clothes’. 

ASOS comes out on top for queries around ‘student discount’, followed by Boohoo. This could point to younger generations perpetuating fast fashion the most, as brands like Boohoo, Missguided and Pretty Little Thing are known for creating unsustainable clothing. 

In terms of which other deals we seek out before shopping, ‘cashback’ is the most popular query in the UK overall, followed by ‘buy now pay later’. Brits are also most likely to search for a ‘sale’ when shopping at Next, Debenhams, Matalan or New Look.