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Clothing growth is on track to outstrip the rest of retail

The UK clothing market is expected to outperform the entire retail sector in the next five years, with online sales the fastest-growing category.

Research firm Mintel, which revealed its Clothing Retailing 2007 report exclusively to Drapers this week, predicts the clothing market will grow by 18.4% between 2007 and 2012 to £34.7 billion, compared with growth of 15.3% in non-food retail sales and 15.9% in the overall retail sector.

Mintel analyst Richard Caines said the online clothing market would grow at a much faster rate than the general clothing sector, with its market share set to hit 10% in the next five years. “There is still a lot of activity online, with retailers launching transactional websites, relaunching existing ones or expanding their online offer,” he said.

He added that growth from new online-only businesses would slow. He said: “It will become more difficult to be successful as a purely online retailer, because existing retailers will eventually all offer an online channel. and are in a unique position because they are already well established.”

Aside from the online players, Mintel cited Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark, George at Asda and Matalan as the UK’s favourite retailers, which were the only ones to be voted best retailer by more than one in five shoppers surveyed by Mintel. The report showed that M&S is the UK’s largest clothing retailer, with a 15% market share.

Caines expects this trend to continue, with middle-market players trading up on quality and supermarkets expanding their clothing offers, but warned that Matalan was likely to suffer.

He said: “Matalan will find it increasingly difficult to attract shoppers to its out-of-town locations. Even though growth in the value sector has slowed, there is still great potential for supermarkets to expand their clothing offer. Sainsbury’s, for example, has dedicated more and more space to its Tu range, while middle-market retailers will continue to segment their offer with a good, better, best policy.

"But the focus will be on more premium collections to offer differentiation and increase margins.”

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