PESTEL Analysis of the fashion retail industry in the UK

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PESTEL Analysis of the fashion retail industry in the UK

This detailed PESTEL Analysis of the fashion retail industry in the UK aims to explore how some of the political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal factors influence the UK fashion retail industry. Clothing has always been a big business for the UK. In fact, the fashion industry contributes approximately £32 billion to the country’s economy.

Political factors affecting the fashion retail industry in the UK

The fashion retail industry in the UK has a global reputation. However, the recent lockdown and economic challenges have hit it very hard. Therefore, the industry has called for more financial support from the government. Without substantial support from the government, half of the industry may risk of walking into an unsustainable future.

Political stability in the UK has impacted on its fashion industry very positively. However, Brexit uncertainty has been a cause of concerns for many. The UK imports approximately £10 billion worth of clothes and shoes from Europe. Therefore, if the country’s existing trade relations with the EU disappear, the fashion industry may have to pay £1 billion more in each year, potentially causing a price hike for many clothing items (Tobin, 2019).

Many politicians and political figures impact on the UK’s fashion industry. What they wear and how they wear influence on the behaviour of many consumers. However, it is worth noting that clothing may sometimes go beyond the idea of ‘fashion’ and be used to express political statements.

Economic factors affecting the fashion retail industry in the UK

Clothing manufacturing is expensive in the UK. Therefore, many retail giants produce their fashion items in countries e.g. Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and China. Producing aboard helps them reduce the production cost and sell the end products at affordable prices. However, it does not mean that all the retailers sell their products cheap.

Armani, Next, Gap, Gucci, and Zara are expensive compared to Peacocks and Primark. This shows that the UK customers have a variety of options depending on their economic circumstances, when it comes to addressing their fashion needs and desires. In fact, fast-fashion retail chain Primark is doing fantastic as it caters for the needs of people who have budget limitations.

Fashion products are entirely different from food products. Therefore, recession and similar economic difficulties affect fashion retailers badly. However, it is also true that the fashion industry adapts quickly to any change of circumstance.

Social factors affecting the fashion retail industry in the UK

There are a good number of colleges and universities in the UK that prepare the fashion designers for tomorrow. Unsurprising, British nationals are in the leading positions of some of the most famous brands in the world. Likewise, a number of fashion events e.g. London Fashion Week, the Curve Fashion Festival, Glamour Beauty Festival London, and Manchester Fashion Week attract thousands of people from all over the world for shopping, catwalks, celebrity talks and much more.

Many people in the UK are heavy buyers of fashion products. No doubt that fast fashion dominates their buying habits. According to Wolstenholme (2018) more than 80% buyers buy clothes that they never wear. While it is fantastic for fashion companies, it is not good for the environment. It should be mentioned that brands endorsed by celebrities do really well in the UK.

Technological factors affecting the fashion retail industry in the UK

There is no doubt that more and more people are shopping online. Most of the fashion giants now have their e-commerce sites. Amazon, eBay, Debenhams, and Next are doing great online, while,,, and many others are steadily becoming household names.

While it is difficult to establish a fashion brand name in the UK, e-commerce sites such as Amazon and eBay provide anyone with open opportunities to sell anything online.  Many people have achieved financial freedoms by trading on Amazon and eBay. However, it is worth mentioning that competition is extremely fierce in the online segment of the UK fashion industry.

Environmental factors affecting the fashion retail industry in the UK

According to the UN (cited in Paton, 2019) the fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This industry consumes more energy than the combined consumption of international aviation and shipping industries. This is really concerning for the UK, as 80% buyers buy clothes that they never wear. The UK shoppers purchase more clothes than any other country in Europe. They are also responsible for sending around 300,000 tons of clothes a year to burning or landfills. Therefore, campaign groups are urging the government to put pressure on fashion companies to take more responsibility and contribute to environmental sustainability.

Legal factors affecting the fashion retail industry in the UK

The UK fashion retail industry must adhere to the country’s rules and regulations set for the industry. Due to strict rules and costs, many companies have outsourced some of their operations abroad. While this saves costs for companies, many customers do not like it at all.

We hope the article ‘PESTEL analysis of the fashion retail industry in the UK’ has been helpful. You may also like reading SWOT analysis of the UK and PESTEL analysis of the UK.

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Last update: 25 August 2020


Paton, E. (2019) In Britain, Politicians Shy Away From a Crackdown on Fast Fashion, available at: (accessed 24 August 2020)

Tobin, L. (2019) How will Brexit impact the UK fashion industry?, available at: (accessed 20 August 2020)

Wolstenholme, H. (2018) More than 80 per cent of shoppers are buying clothes they never wear, study shows, (accessed 23 August 2020)

Photo credit: Pixabay

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.