Young fashion indies are bearing the brunt of the collapse in consumer confidence, with spend among 12 to 24-year-olds in their stores down an alarming 42% over the first six months of the year, according to data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel.
The data showed that while indies lost out hugely, the overall young fashion market grew 1% to £3.6bn, with the high street recording a 4% uplift in spend and supermarkets scoring a massive 17% uplift.
The 20 to 24-year-old segment has been worst hit, with spend in young fashion indies falling by 31% over the 24 weeks to May 15, the highest level among all age groups, as young consumers are hit by high unemployment and lower disposable income as well as rising clothing prices.
Kantar Worldpanel analyst Chris Elliot said fewer UK consumers are shopping than previously and, those that are, are doing so less often and spending less. He added that indies were having a hard time competing with the “perceived” value offered by high street retailers.
Lee Appleby, owner of menswear indie The Locker Room in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, said he had “never seen it so bad” in 22 years of business. He said he was increasingly moving towards in-season buying from smaller labels and stock houses in a bid to increase margins. “I don’t see any point in stocking a major brand anymore. We can’t compete with the high street.”
Andrew Kew, director of young fashion indie En-Fin in Douglas, Isle of Man, said he had been forced to drop one brand, which he declined to name, after it refused to reduce its minimum order requirement. “Generally, brands will reduce the minimum orders and then we are buying in-season,” he said.