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Suiting sales suffer slowdown

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.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • The value end of the market has bastardized suits and in many ways the suit is not looked as a quality stylish item like it used to be. Where a middle market retailer could get £200-£250 with ease a few years back, now the 'I only want to where it once brigade' won't pay and have been lured by ultra cheap, polyester suits that are available in Supermarkets or the likes of Slaters, who will throw in a shirt, tie and shoes to boot to make the suit as desirable and classy as a large bag of greasy chips.

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  • You could also attribute this downturn to the number of new companies (especially technology based) that no longer require staff to wear a suit to work and may even frown upon it altogether. Couple this with the ever growing number of existing companies that are gradually relaxing their dress code to appear more "culient and consumer friendly" and you have a drastically reduced customer base to sell to.

    Thank God for the bankers is all I can say!

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