Fast fashion retailers have made their name by offering shoppers a chance to keep up with the latest trends, at the lowest possible prices. Whether it be traditional high-street staples, such as Primark, or the new wave of online retailers, such as boohoo, the fast fashion industry has spent decades courting young female customers. Yet it seems the love affair is over, as young socially conscious women are turning their back on the industry.
At PensionBee, we believe in regularly surveying our customers to ensure our product continues to be aligned with the changing investment expectations of British savers. So earlier this year, we asked our customers their views on various industries their pensions were invested in.
We discovered that a majority of our customers have a strong distrust of the fast fashion industry. Not only do they believe it’s detrimental to society, but they don’t want to invest in fast fashion companies via their pension. This view was most prominent among female customers aged 30 and under (82%) despite the industry’s clear focus on this demographic.
So what’s driven this significant shift in opinion? Well increased education and understanding around the damage caused by unsustainable industries for one. A 2019 House of Commons report revealed that global textile production produces an estimated 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year - more than international aviation and maritime shipping combined. The global fashion industry is also said to consume an estimated 79 billion cubic metres of fresh water annually. With the UK, sending an estimated £140 million worth of clothing to landfill each year.
These shocking statistics certainly seem to underpin this growing interest in sustainable living, and demand for sustainable investment options to match. Additional PensionBee research revealed that 94% of adults are taking steps to live more sustainable lifestyles - whether this be eating less meat, recycling or taking public transport. But even more encouragingly, this view is being widely applied to pension saving, with almost half of respondents (48%) preferring that their pension be invested sustainably to help drive positive change. In addition, 29% reported that they would change where their pensions are invested if it was unsustainable, and almost a quarter (24%) of young people (aged 18-34) felt so strongly that they would actively encourage others to leave that pension fund.
The industry’s association with labour exploitation in unsafe working conditions, is another component of its negative relationship with pension savers. PensionBee’s data shows that savers across all age groups and genders prioritise action on companies that treat workers unfairly, with 33% wishing to divest from companies that don’t pay the Living Wage to all of their workers.
So undoubtedly there’s a united desire to live more sustainably, with individuals making conscious decisions in their everyday lives to achieve this. More and more savers are beginning to recognise their investment power to transform the world they live in - for the better of the planet, society and their retirement.
The message from savers is loud and clear. They want fair and sustainable businesses in their pensions who will offer positive contributions for society, and subsequently provide longer-term returns.
As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.