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Drop in fashion sales ‘serious cause for concern’

Fashion sales in the UK fell by 2% year on year in 2016, as the industry battled with discounting, over-buying and a rigid buying cycle, research from Kantar Worldpanel shows.

Almost £750m was knocked off the value of the market, which includes clothing, footwear and accessories. This marks the biggest drop since August 2009.

Black Friday sales failed to drive consumer spend, Kantar reported. Shoppers now see the event as the start of the Christmas sales.

There were some more positive notes however, as pureplay online retailers saw a 7% growth in sales year on year, while sales at independent retailers rose 3.2%.

Glen Tooke, consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “It’s been another difficult year for British fashion as we’ve seen still more value driven out of the market.

”A 2% drop in sales is a serious cause for concern, particularly when you consider that the lowest point the market reached in the wake of recession was a 3.1% slump in May 2009. 

“We’re seeing fashion retailers continue to struggle with the same issues that have dogged the market for several years now – over-buying and deep discounting. These companies are stuck in a rigid, seasonal buying cycle which no longer reflects how consumers shop.

“Consumers are far more flexible in their approach to shopping and many retailers have been left behind. The result is piles of leftover stock these shops then have to sell off at vastly reduced prices.”

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