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Indies slump in face of festive discounting

Independent retailers lost market share over the vital Christmas period as a result of aggressive discounting at department stores.

According to market research group Kantar Worldpanel Fashion (formerly TNS), market share by expenditure in the indie clothing sector fell back 1.3% to 4.8% during the 12 weeks to January 3, the largest drop of all the clothing and footwear retail sectors during the period.

However, the total department store sector also saw its market share by expenditure decline 0.8% to 8.6% as a result of the discounting strategies they employed, which stole full-price sales away from indies.

The department store sector was the only retail sector to discount as heavily as the previous year. The rest of the high street had fewer markdowns.

Kantar Worldpanel Fashion client manager Elaine Giles said: “The indies were hit by discounting. Department stores were the only ones that discounted heavily and still seemed to see discounting as a long-term strategy.”

The second largest drop in market share by expenditure was recorded in the general stores sector, which includes retailers such as Bhs, where market share fell 1.1% to command 14.7% of the total market.

By contrast, winners over the period included the supermarkets and mail-order businesses, both of which reported a 0.8% rise in market share by value during the period to command 8.5% and 7% of the market respectively.

Fashion multiples’ market share by value was 27.4% during the period, a 0.7% rise. Sales across the whole fashion retail sector in the 12 weeks rose 2% to £8.8bn against a particularly tough 2008 during which sales fell 4% on 2007 levels.

Womenswear sales outshone menswear over the period, with spend up 3% in womenswear to £4.9bn, compared with a 2% rise to £2.7bn for menswear.

Kantar said menswear retailers should see a boost in sales of sportswear this year because of the football World Cup.

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