Should you fear the clothing rental trend?

The prescription to fight flagging sales that many retailers
in the apparel world have embraced recently is the subscription program. In
recent months a large swath of brands such as Banana Republic, Urban
Outfitters, Ann Taylor, American Eagle, and Vince have all announced plans to
launch their own clothing rental programs. What’s behind this move by so many
big players getting into the rental business? It’s simple; it’s a play to stay
relevant in a wildly competitive retail environment where online sales seem to
gobble up more market share each year from these traditionally brick and mortar
retailers. The subscription service model is not a new one, but it’s gained
significant popularly in recent years. Consumers have acclimated themselves to
the concept and have gotten used to seeing that monthly charge on their credit
card statements. It’s quite an appealing concept for retailers as its
guaranteed revenue in their doors each month in the form of the flat monthly
fee. Plus more potential sales if the goods are kept or if the consumer forgets
to return them. This is the kind of income that retailers crave. It’s far
easier to forecast revenue in a subscription-based program, and guaranteed
income even if the consumer does not end up purchasing that particular month’s
items.

Let’s return to the initial question of this article. As independent retailers should you be
concerned about clothing subscription services replacing online or brick and
mortar apparel retail anytime soon? The answer, in my opinion, is no for
several reasons. For starters, subscription services are most appealing to
consumers when they offer a solution to a particular problem. Need
entertainment? Subscribe to one of the multitudes of streaming services now
available to consumers, millions of hours of entertainment are now at your
fingertips. Need some quick homecooked meals? Subscribe to one of the many home
delivery meal kits currently available and save yourself the headache of figuring
out what’s for dinner tonight. These are both solutions to a particular
problem, and that is their main appeal. Now I am not saying having no clothes is not a problem, but
the concept of buying all of your clothes from a single brand seems like quite
a stretch. Do you have a closet comprised of exclusively a single brand? And if
not, are you willing to start up a half dozen or more subscription services to
give your wardrobe the variety you crave? I highly doubt it. Clothing selection
is a very personal thing; it’s a form of self-expression that very few
consumers are willing to leave in the hands of anyone or anything else. Some of
these models may have some initial success, in particular, those able to offer
a variety of brands and styles. There are several well-established players in
the arena like Rent the Runway that will probably be around for some time to
come, but most of these new rental options will burn out quickly as the fad
loses its appeal. Consumers want variety and choices; that’s why there will
always be room for independent retailers like you that offer their customers a
multitude of options. You know too that you can rely on Foxliquidation a leader in the liquidation industry that can deliver all of these options. Keep one thing in mind. Clothing rental
subscription services are a solution to a retailer’s problem, not a consumer’s
problem. 

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