Indie kidswear retailers say they have lost customers to supermarkets and value stores in spite of research that says the total kidswear market has been the most resilient sector during the recession.
A report by market research group Verdict Research published this week estimated the kidswear market would outperform the rest of the clothing sector to be worth £4.63bn this year, a drop of 0.1% on last year. Verdict estimated the clothing market as a whole is set to drop 0.6% this year.
However, kidswear indies told Drapers that their experience differed from the overall kidswear market performance.
Amanda Jane Plummer-Laidler, owner of maternity and kidswear specialist Welcome Baby Home in Sunderland, said: “People tell me they won’t spend on clothing for kids because they grow so fast that it makes more sense to buy from the supermarkets and/or value stores like Primark. I hope sales will pick up, but now consumers are in that frame of mind it will be hard to change their habits.”
Verdict’s research showed that since the demise of Woolworths, which held a 5.4% share of the kidswear market last year, supermarkets and value retailers have strengthened their position. Primark’s market share is up 0.6% to a 7.1% share, Tesco’s is up 0.5% to 7.8%, Asda’s increased 0.4% to 9.3% and Matalan’s rose 0.3% to a 3.4% slice of the market. Next retained the top spot in terms of market share with 9.8% this year, a 0.1% increase.
According to figures from market research group TNS Worldpanel Fashion, the independent sector lost 0.2% of overall kidswear market share in the 36 weeks to September 13, compared with the same period in 2008. Indies now hold 5.6% of the UK market, whereas the value sector rose 3% to command 29.1% of the market in the same period.
TNS Worldpanel Fashion client manager Elaine Giles said: “The supermarkets, discounters and high street multiples have all performed particularly well this year. With own-label product being so dominant in the kids’ market, indies face a tough time and need to find a point of difference over the rest of high street more than ever before.”
Angela Knight, owner of kidswear indie Jelly Beans in Douglas, Isle of Man, agreed and added that fabric and styling had become more important. She said: “People may be spending at the supermarkets now but they will come back once they’ve noticed the difference in quality.”
However, while overall kidswear sales are expected to fall slightly, Verdict predicted that the babywear market would not contract this year, due to a continuing baby boom.