More full-price sales mean small UK fashion bounce-back says study

The British fashion market has returned to growth, albeit at a mild pace of only 0.2%, according to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel.


Fewer discounting and more transitional pieces are the driving forces behind the growth

That's how much the UK clothing, footwear and accessories market grew in the year to 24 September 2017, following 16 periods of decline dating back to June 2016.  

Market growth was mainly driven by an increase in full-price sales, as retailers made significant efforts to keep discounting at bay by getting the price right from the off.

“As a result shoppers have more confidence in buying at the original price,” said Glen Tooke, who works as consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel.

Indeed, the figures show that full-price sales have contributed an additional £483 million to the market since this time last year, while discounting has fallen 2.7%. Retailers sold 98 million fewer discounted pieces than the previous period.

“There’s also been an increasing trend for transitional pieces like two-in-one jackets which are relevant for longer and so don’t need discounting as soon as the weather turns. Retailers are finally recognising that most shoppers aren’t after what’s ‘in season’ – partly because trends so often bear little relation to the British weather – and larger ranges and a more flexible approach to stock control are helping to break this cycle,” added Tooke.

While the rebound will be certainly welcome news for British retailers, Kantar Worldpanel warned that the growth is worth only £66 million, and retailers will need to be proactive to ensure growth in the long term.

The fashion market is likely to continue developing positively, especially with Christmas around the corner, said Tooke. But while consumers may be buying more every time they shop, they’re shopping less frequently – making two fewer visits per year on average compared to 2015.

“Ahead of Christmas there’s still Black Friday on the horizon,” said Tooke. “In 2016 Black Friday fashion sales declined by 16% year on year as many retailers actively rejected the initiative, and the industry must be careful not to fall back into a pattern of discounting for discounting’s sake if it wants to see growth continue into the new year.”

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