The British fashion market – covering clothing, footwear and accessories – could fall in value by £350 million in the next 12 months, according to new projections from Kantar Worldpanel.
While overall shopper numbers have increased by 228,000 in the 52 weeks ending 3 June, the fashion market declined by 0.4 percentage points over the same time – the eighth consecutive period of flat or negative growth. The last time the British fashion market experienced more than one month of growth in a row was two years ago, in June 2016.
Glen Tooke, consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, explains: “Despite the current challenges, customers are starting to return to the fashion market. 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 1% 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.
Tooke continues: “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.
“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. The current hot weather is a perfect example. The moment is now and when the sun disappears next week it will have passed, and those are sales that the retailers can never get back.
“Most consumers simply want good products and good prices, and they place a far lower value on attributes like celebrity endorsement or brand image. 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.”