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Tablets help drive first rise in menswear sales for five years

Volume sales across menswear will return to growth for the first time in five years in 2012, with the sector primed for continued acceleration over the next decade.

The number of menswear items sold in 2012 is expected to increase by 0.3% compared with the previous 12 months – the first time the market has seen any uplift since 2007. Value growth will slow to 2.5%, following several years of high inflation.

Retail analysis group Verdict Research is also forecasting volume growth of 0.4% for womenswear.

However, menswear is expected to see renewed growth over the medium term, with Verdict predicting total expenditure will grow by £1.8bn by 2016 – double that seen over the past five years – with 2014 seeing a return to pre-recession levels.

By 2021, Verdict has forecast the menswear market will hit £13.7bn – almost one-and-a-half times last year’s market size, with average spend per head rising from £383 in 2011 to £503 by 2021.

Verdict claimed this growth would be down to the rise in tablets driving online transactions and a strengthening in consumer confidence, following significant drops due to the recession.

Verdict retail analyst Andrew Stevens said: “Menswear is quite a bit more vulnerable [to downturns] than womenswear so it has been put on the backburner over the last couple of years, but we are expecting a big uplift now. Men are quite happy to rein back clothing spend when money is tight, whereas women rarely neglect it.”

Stevens noted that this trend would be enhanced by the rise in mobile devices – 7.4% of male shoppers own a tablet, compared with 6% of women – which Verdict argued would offer major sales opportunities for menswear retailers. The rise of convenience transactions, such as click-and-collect, will also drive growth.

“Over the next 10 years men are going to be spending more,” said Stevens. “Fashion is becoming more important for menswear and men are paying a lot more attention to their clothing.”

According to the New West End Company, which represents retailers in London’s West End, nine menswear retailers will have opened stores in the area during this financial year, including Wolsey, Stone Island and Jack Spade.

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