Suiting sales have dropped dramatically over the past five years, with revenues down nearly a quarter.
Compared with five years ago, 300,000 fewer men’s suits were sold this year.
According to data from Kantar Worldpanel, sales of men’s suiting have dropped by £47.3m over the past five years, with men reducing their annual spend on suits from £207.5m in the year to September 7, 2008 to £160.2m in the year to September 2, 2012.
The number of shoppers buying women’s suits has fallen even more, with a 45% year-on-year decline. In total, 600,000 fewer women’s suits sold this year compared with five years ago.
Supermarkets are pushing growth of formal workwear among women, with the sector up 16%, while men’s workwear is up 30% at discount retailers.
Angela Payumo, consumer research analyst at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Shopping for a work wardrobe can be an expensive affair and, since the recession, consumers can’t afford to splash out. Shoppers have had to become more practical by making their purchases last longer and choosing more versatile outfits – something they can wear for a night out as well as to work.”
Bucking the trend are 45 to 54-year-olds, who have increased the amount they spend on formal work attire. Women in this age group are spending 25% more and men spending 18% more in the last five years.
“Younger workers, on the other hand, simply don’t have the money to buy suits and seem to have been hit harder by the recession than their older co-workers,” Payumo explained. “It is only a matter of time before dress-down Friday becomes the norm for the entire week.”