Belts have overtaken handbags for the first time as the most popular accessory, according to Mintel.
The market research agency reported that more than 41% of UK consumers bought a belt in 2008, while 36% purchased handbags. Handbag sales were up to a lesser extent than belts, with the strongest growth at the value end.
Ties were the biggest growth area in men’s accessories, largely due to the popularity of the skinny tie and casual ties among 16 to 24-year-olds.
Mintel predicted that sales of belts and ties will slow this year as retailers add value by selling belts with clothing and offering free ties with shirts. Sales are forecast to rise again next year as the recession lifts. Over the next five years, accessories sales are set to grow 26% to £633m.