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Cash-strapped young shoppers shun fashion

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The fashion industry is haemorrhaging shoppers under the age of 35, with consumers leaving the market as rising household prices eat into income.

There were almost 400,000 fewer shoppers of clothing, footwear and accessories in this age range over the 24 weeks to May 12 compared with the same time last year, figures from consumer analyst Kantar Worldpanel have revealed.

Until now the trend had only been found in consumers aged 25 and under, but in the last three months the generation above has joined them in their reticence to spend.

These two age ranges accounted for 34% of all fashion purchases in the period, as under-25 spend declined 6%, with the 25 to 34 bracket dropping 2.4%.

Those aged 35 to 44 have also cut spend, but by a less marked 0.9%. Menswear has seen the biggest drop in spend by the under-35s, down 8.6%, while womenswear declined 1.7%. Kidswear fell 4.2%.

For those aged 45 and over, menswear spend rose 7%, while womenswear and kidswear purchases each rose 4%.

Drapers has previously reported the decline in branded men’s young fashion, but these latest figures suggest the problem is more widespread.

Kantar client executive Charlotte Wilks said: “[Shoppers] are not only cutting back on the more expensive, branded end of the market but also on own-label clothing.

“Branded accounts for 23% of spend by those aged under 45, where sales have declined by 4%. Own label accounts for the remaining 76% and has experienced declines of 3%. In contrast, the 45-and-over market has grown both own label and branded by 5%.”

Wilks said shoppers were “continuing to engage with online”, which was up 9% compared with a 6% decline for in-store sales. But with the high street still accounting for 79% of fashion purchases, this was not enough to cushion the fall. There was no evidence of the declines easing, she added.

Verdict Retail analyst Honor Westnedge said she had noted a similar trend, as the rising cost of living was driving 25 to 34-year-olds to be more selective and “really look for quality”.

“That shopper is looking to retailers like Zara to justify the price points. This customer is getting more demanding and if they don’t get it right, they risk the customer trading up to the likes of Reiss, Ted Baker and Whistles,” she said.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I think the 16-24 year old bracket is different to the 25-34 year old bracket. By the time someone is 25, they tend to be more brand and quality savvy, being more careful on what they buy.

    The problem is brands in general are obsessed with an age bracket (15-24) that no longer cares about or can afford them. Will brands - and in turn retailers - lower their image and prices to get them back? Hmmm.....

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