Fast fashion retailer primark was found to be one of

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Fast fashion retailer Primark was found to be one of the companies producing garments in the Rana Plaza garment factories, which collapsed in 2013 due to breaches of building safety regulations (Hartley-Brewer 2015 ). With consumer response being similar to that seen in 2007 sales were thought to have declined, however, this was quite the contrary with annual pro fi ts in November 2013 seeing an increase of 44 % to £ 514 billion, equating to £ 11.7 million per trading day (Hawkes 2013 ). Despite the general public relying on press for the latest infor- mation, the authenticity and accuracy of stories must also be questioned, often being further elaborated or dramatised for the increased effect of text-based news. Although the consumer cannot control or regulate the actions or business choices of companies, they do have the power to choose where they shop as a re fl ection of the values of the retailer. This choice of where they purchase is effectively a vote, indicating that the consumer is happy to spend their money with that particular company. This is similar to that seen during a boycott, where consumers actively choose to not purchase with a particular company due to disagreeing with their business practices. This element of choice, however, does rely on the consumer being knowledgeable enough to make an informed purchasing decision. The accuracy of the information and the reliance of the source providing the information can also effect the decisions made by consumers. In addition to consumer choice, pressures on buying intentions created in peer and social circles can also be a powerful in fl uential tool in the choice of purchasing retailers. The power of the consumer has been identi fi ed in the market of food purchasing, where consumers have demanded that alternatives are made available. The response to this is evident with large quantities of food ranges now providing organic alternatives and goods such as coffee, chocolate and bananas offering Fairtrade options to customers. These alternatives and choices have become widely accepted in the food industry, however, this has not seen to be spreading to the fashion industry. Even the cosmetics market now provides more socially responsible alternatives to the mass market, with shops such as Body Shop and Lush including ethical and sustainable credentials in their USP (unique selling point). With industries such as food and cosmetics moving forward, the fashion industry does not appear to be keeping pace with consumer demand, which is seen as a direct in fl uence of increased knowledge and awareness of ethical and sustainable issues. The increased media coverage of relevant issues is said to be responsible for the growth of consumer interest and should in turn see retailers responding in the way seen in other markets. In support of this argument it can be questioned if it is retail giants who dictate how consumers purchase goods (Fox 2005 ) or if consumers Connectivity, Understanding and Empathy 71
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  • Fall '19
  • Business Ethics, Corporate social responsibility, Alana M. James, Bruce Montgomery

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