Fits.me report highlights retail opportunity to tap into potential of the ‘grey pound’

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In light of recent slow sales in clothing results over the last quarter of 2015 and the Christmas period experienced by many UK retailers, new research from garment fit specialist Fits.me highlights the tremendous potential the ‘grey market’ (traditionally defined as consumers aged 50+) has to turn growth prospects around in 2016.

Bucking longstanding stereotypes about this market, in a recent national survey of the UK’s clothes shoppers, Fits.me discovered that over a third (35%) of shoppers over the age of 55 regularly shop for clothes online, while a further 34% occasionally shop for clothes on the internet. However, just under a quarter of this age group (24%) often or always find it hard to locate what they’re looking for when shopping both in-store and online for clothes, and some 40% always or often actively find the process of finding the garments they are looking for irritating while shopping for clothes.

The grey market of shoppers represents 22m individuals, or 36% of the UK population, while the over 50s account for 47% of the UK’s consumer spending – representing a massive £320bn per year, according to 2015 research from Saga and the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

The Knowing them, knowing you – shopper perspectives on engagement, loyalty and personalisation in apparel retailreport, available for download here, found that shoppers aged over 55 are the least likely age group to claim loyalty to any single clothing retailer, and the most likely of all shopper age groups to shop around to find the items they are looking for.

Older shoppers are also the demographic most likely to shop around to secure best price on items (over half of over 55s agreed with this statement, at 55%) and the most likely to shop around for the brands they like (30% of over 55s agreed with this statement, against 7% of 18-24 year olds). The means that they represent a huge opportunity for brands who can successfully target and engage with these audiences and tailor a retail solution to suit them – this current behaviour suggests that no single store has cracked an offering which truly suits their shopping needs.

Stuart Simms, CEO of Fits.me, said: “The clothing retail landscape has been tough on many stores in recent months, and this research highlights that many older demographics of shopper feel underserved by clothes shopping in general. Stores looking to boost their growth might do well to learn more about this demographic, the kinds of clothes they are looking to buy and how they want to access them, in a landscape which often focuses on younger, more fashion-forward shoppers.”