Chinese shoppers are set to more than double their current annual clothing spend to £212 billion by 2018, with Western clothing retailers well positioned to take advantage of booming Chinese consumption.
In 2013 Chinese clothing expenditure was £103 billion, a report by consultancy Conlumino says. China, currently the second largest global economy with a population of 1.4bn, has huge potential for western retailers whose mature home markets are offering few opportunities for growth, the report says.
Ecommerce represents a big opportunity for foreign retailers, with online spending on clothing set to account for 20.5% of the total spend by 2018, up from 5.2% last year.
The increase in sales is propelled by young Chinese women adopting Western lifestyles, the research suggests. More Chinese women are working, occupying senior management roles, and putting off having children until their late 20s, resulting in more disposable income to spend on themselves. A growing urban middle class and an increasing trend towards consumerism is also contributing to retail growth in the country.
International mainstream and value-led brands in China are growing fast. Zara, and other Inditex Group brands, will have over 500 stores in China by the end of 2014, and others, such as H&M and Uniqlo, are snapping up additonal retail space. However, other clothing retailers have suffered in the crowded Chinese market: Asos has reported a £9m loss in the territory this year after its launch in October 2013.
Conlumino global research director Maureen Hinton said that retailers should take advantage of increased online connectivity to reach Chinese shoppers. “The growth of the internet and social media have generated global fashion trends and this has made it far easier for international fashion brands to expand. Where once fashion tended to be local, this is no longer the case,” she said.