The British fashion market could lose more than £350m in value in the coming year, as heavy discounting and lower shopping frequency continues to challenge the industry.
While shopper numbers have gone up by almost a quarter of a million, the overall market has posted a decline of 0.4% in the 52 weeks to 3 June – the eighth consecutive period of flat or negative growth, according to a new report by Kantar Worldpanel.
The last time the British fashion market experienced more than one month of growth in a row was two years ago, in June 2016.
Two thirds of clothing, footwear and accessories sold in the past year were at full price, though the value of these sales fell by £443m. Discounted clothing grew by £303m in the same period though both full price and discount items saw declines in the number of units sold – down by 1m and 31m units respectively, showing that discounting is not increasing the amount that shoppers buy.
Glen Tooke, consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, 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. 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.”
Tooke said that 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.
He added: “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 £350m.”