New annual figures on the British fashion market show that its decline in 2016 continued with a two per cent drop in sales compared with the year before.
This is the deepest decline the market since August 2009, according to Kantar Worldpanel, wiping almost £750 million off its total value in the 52 weeks ending December 18.
Kantar Worldpanel consumer insight director Glen Tooke said the two per cent drop was a “serious cause for concern” and fashion retailers – including clothing, footwear and accessories – continue to struggle with the same issues that have plagued the market for several years.
“Particularly when you consider that the lowest point the market reached in the wake of recession was a 3.1 per cent slump in May 2009,” he said.
“Although it‘s not great news overall, there are some bright spots for the market – online pure players saw impressive growth of seven per cent year-on-year, while independent retailers improved sales by 3.2 per cent.”
Tooke said many fashion retailers needed to be more flexible with their seasonal buying cycle and re-consider their discounting.
“These companies are stuck in a rigid, seasonal buying cycle which no longer reflects how consumers shop,” he said.
“Gone are the days of buying a new winter coat come rain or shine: consumers are far more flexible in their approach to shopping and many retailers have been left behind.
“The result is piles of leftover stock these shops then have to sell off at vastly reduced prices.”
Tooke added that while the collapse of BHS could have had a “highly symbolic blow to morale for the high street”, its overall impact on the market was actually less significant as it was “never a top 10 retailer”.