Supermarkets now claim more of the nation's fashion spend than department stores, after the sector's market share rose 14% on last year.
Department stores' share of clothing and footwear spend fell 6.4% year on year to 7.3% for the 12 weeks to April 29. But supermarkets' share nudged ahead for the first time to 7.4%, according to figures from market analyst TNS Worldpanel Fashion.
Only discounters made equivalent gains, up nearly 10% to 11.4%.
The figures reveal the continued growth of value chains at the expense of specialist players such as sportswear, footwear and mail order retailers. Independent retailers' value share slumped 12% during the period.
"Supermarkets have been ahead of department stores in kidswear for some time," said TNS Worldpanel executive Elaine Giles. "But they are rapidly catching up in both menswear and womenswear and this has led to them overtaking in total clothing."
Giles said that in terms of volume, supermarkets now accounted for 21% of all items sold and were second only to discounters.
In womenswear, supermarkets have moved into second place by volume behind discounters, with an 18.7% share, nudging 4% ahead of high street multiples by volume. Supermarkets also have the highest volume of all sectors in kidswear, with a 29.8% share.
"Supermarkets' hold on the clothing market is increasing," added Giles. "Almost 40% of the population has bought at least one item in a supermarket in the past three months, which rises to 52% when we look at the female population."
George global managing director Angela Spindler said: "It's inevitable that this has happened, as supermarkets devote more space to clothing and increase the quality of their garments. With more people feeling the pinch and interest rates rising, it looks like this trend will continue."
Despite figures from the Confederation of British Industry stating clothing sales in June were at their lowest point in 24 years, TNS Worldpanel said volume and value in the clothing and footwear sector grew by 16% and 7% respectively for the second quarter of 2007. However, average selling prices in the period fell 8%.
Volume growth was most significant in menswear, up 12%, where prices had been the most suppressed.