UK fashion sector could lose £350m over coming year

June retail sales ONS

The UK fashion market could fall in value by £350 million in the next 12 months, according to new data.

According to projections from Kantar Worldpanel, while overall shopper numbers have increased by 228,000 in the 52 weeks ending June 3, the fashion market declined by 0.4 per cent over the same time.

This marks the eighth consecutive period of flat or negative growth.

The last time the British fashion market – covering clothing, footwear and accessories – experienced more than one month of growth in a row was two years ago, in June 2016.

“Despite the current challenges, customers are starting to return to the fashion market,” Kantar consumer insight director Glen Tooke said.

“However, shopping frequency is down by one trip per year, which makes a significant difference across the whole population.

“Turning this around will be the next big test for retailers. Unless things change, our current market projection suggests a one per cent decline in the market this time next year, which equals around £350 million.”Two thirds of clothing, footwear and accessories sold in the past year were at full price, though the value of these sales fell by £443 million.

Discounted clothing grew by £303 million in the same period though both full price and discount items saw declines in the number of units sold – down by one million and 31 million respectively, showing that discounting is not increasing the amount that shoppers buy.

“For too long, shoppers have been trained to wait until the sales start, meaning that the heavy discounting favoured by many high street retailers still isn’t having the desired effect in terms of driving spend or footfall,” Tooke said.

“Struggling retailers should not always turn to discounting as the first option. The days of ‘put it in the store and they will buy it’ are long gone.

“Shoppers today are buying in the moment and retailers have to be much more flexible and fleet of foot to accommodate this.”

He added: “In our time-poor culture, retailers can’t be seen to be wasting customers’ time with slow deliveries, queues in store or poor stock availability.

“Shoppers change half of their store repertoire year-on-year so it’s the retailers who get the basics right and deliver a slick service and great experiences for customers who will inevitably do best.”

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