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Fashion market falls into decline for first time in six years

The fashion market in the UK has fallen into decline for the first time in six years, data from Kantar Worldpanel has shown.

For the year to June 5 consumer spend on clothing, footwear and accessories fell 0.1% as shoppers held out for discounts on the high street.

Kantar data revealed that, before it went into administration in April, 60% of all sales at BHS were on discounted stock, while both Karen Millen and French Connection only sell 37% of stock at full price.

Glen Tooke, consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Stores are becoming increasingly reliant on discounting and power has shifted into the hands of consumers, who have come to expect discounts throughout the year and who are trained to shop during Sale periods.

“Retailers are suffering from these shifting expectations. The problem is exacerbated by retailers over-buying and then needing to clear stock simply to make room for the next season.”

Supermarkets hold a 10.1% share of the fashion market, while almost a quarter of fashion spend – 23% – now happens online, compared with just 2% in 2006.

And although the fashion market has grown by 20% to £36bn over the past decade, average annual spend has only increased by £10 in the same time, to £767.

Tooke added: “In the short term we can expect to see market growth waver at around zero but this first decline in almost seven years will be a real wake-up call for retailers and brands. In a highly competitive marketplace, they both need to be much more nimble and responsive to the ‘new’ consumer. Loyalty is a thing of the past, and stores and brands can no longer rely on doing the same things for the same shoppers again and again.”

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