Retailers are urged to act fast in order to engage and satisfy underwhelmed sustainable shoppers in the latest UK Sustainability 2019 report by GlobalData.

The report found that almost 80% of consumers think that retailers are not doing enough to address issues around sustainability and climate change. It also revealed that those who are most likely to purchase more frequently are more often engaged with sustainability and ethics.

Of the consumers surveyed, 82.3% aged 16-24 agreed that retailers should make an effort to source sustainable and ethical materials for clothing and footwear. GlobalData analysts said that this consumer group may be less likely to become sustainable shoppers due to the high prices related to sustainable and ethical items. The data supports this premise, with 78.8% of consumers agreeing that affordable sustainable and ethical clothing and footwear items are hard to find

The findings follow recent conversations about the lack of sustainability efforts taken by retailers such as JD Sports, Sports Direct, TK Maxx, Amazon UK, Boohoo and Misguided. The retailers were named as the ‘least engaged’ by the Environmental Audit Committee, a House of Commons select committee, upon the release of a sustainability audit in January this year.

GlobalData retail analyst Emily Salter said: “Retailers have tried to tap into this demand for more sustainable items, such as H&M continuing to extend its Conscious Collection, PRETTYLITTLETHING launching its recycled collection, and Primark introducing garments made from sustainable materials.

“However, fast fashion is inherently environmentally unsustainable. More sustainable and ethical options are growing in popularity, including dedicated retailers, slow fashion, and resale apps. Clothing retailers could capitalise upon this trend by launching rental services, as well as online second-hand marketplaces.”

Public awareness in plastic waste produces more sustainable shoppers

Salter added: “The ‘war against plastic’ gained huge public awareness from the Bbc’s Blue Planet 2 documentary, which showed the enormous damage that plastic is having on the marine environment and animals. A number of retailers, in particular grocers, such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer, quickly reacted to this growing consumer interest by reducing use of single-use plastics.

“There are further opportunities for grocers to gain share and consumer trust based on their plastic credentials, for instance, 66.3% of consumers said they make an effort to purchase food without plastic packaging, so more plastic-free options should be explored.”