UK fashion 'to lose £350m' this year, price cuts less effective - Kantar Worldpanel

As yet another retail survey (from the CBI) suggests that fashion sales are continuing to be weak, a gloomy prediction from Kantar Worldpanel looks like it could just come true.


Footfall is dropping and price cuts are proving less appealing for UK shoppers


The consumer insights and data specialist said on Thursday that the UK fashion market could lose over £350 million in value in the year ahead as declining footfall and an inability by the retail sector to wean itself away from markdowns continue to take their toll.

The fashion market is suffering more than retail as a whole and while UK shopper numbers overall have risen by almost a quarter of a million in the year to June 3, the fashion market fell by 0.4%.

And the fashion market hasn't seen two consecutive months of growth for two years. Interestingly, the last time we saw that happening was June 2016 with the result of the EU referendum at the end of that month apparently sending consumer confidence generally into a tailspin from which it hasn't recovered yet.

Kantar Worldpanel’s consumer insight director Glen Tooke said that despite its current challenges, “customers are starting to return to the fashion market,” although the evidence for this seems quite sparse and he added that “shopping frequency is down by one trip per year, which makes a significant difference across the whole population.”

Unless the situation changes, the analysts’ current market projection suggests “a 1% decline in the market [by] this time next year, which equals around £350 million.”

According to Kantar, only two-thirds of clothing, footwear and accessories sold in the past year were at full price and the value of these sales fell by £443 million.

Not that consumers were buying extra discounted fashion as a result, although they do seem to have purchased tactically. It seems that full-price fashion and items with money-off both saw declining sales volumes. Full-price fashion was down by a million items in total and while discounted fashion grew by £303 million, it was down by a huge 31 million items. Clearly consumers were resistant to many price cuts and appeared to be choosing higher-priced, quality items once they were marked down.

Tooke added: “For too long, shoppers have been trained to wait until the sales start, meaning that the heavy discounting favoured by many high street retailers still isn't having the desired effect in terms of driving spend or footfall. Shoppers today are buying in the moment and retailers have to be much more flexible and fleet of foot to accommodate this. The current hot weather is a perfect example. The moment is now and when the sun disappears next week it will have passed, and those are sales that the retailers can never get back.”

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