More information from http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/3557/
Clothing Retailers Market Assessment
Description: Faced by declining real prices and soft demand patterns, UK clothing retailers have been forced to
re-examine their consumer positioning very closely. UK clothes shoppers have noted that out-of-
town discount stores seem able to supply clothing in styles and at a quality, which, although not
the equal of mid-range High Street clothes, is acceptable at the price.
Beyond the split by male and female clothing or the style of retail operation, it is possible to look at
the market in terms of consumer perception. Broadly, the market can be split between everyday
wear, clothes which have a fashion quotient (High Street fashion) and clothing at the top end of the
fashionable ready to wear market.
Looking at the markets for 'standard' clothing, High Street fashion and 'high fashion', Market
Assessment estimate that the divisions by value are as follows. 'Standard' clothing accounts for by
far the major part of the market for male and female clothing, with fashion wear taking only about
15% of all sales. Standard clothing is the core market for the High Street mixed retailers and
department stores, which are the first port of call for many consumers when they are shopping,
although for major purchases the fashion chains have an important role.
The standard and discount sectors are dominated by major players with a national profile while
fashion wear, although there are many national chains, is much more fragmented and there are
also a number of regionally strong chains without national exposure (especially in London and other
major cities). High fashion is restricted to fashion-orientated department stores such as Harvey
Nichols and Selfridges, independents in affluent parts of the country and to a limited number of
specialised chains such as Joseph.
Value and growth
The growth sector of the market in recent years has undoubtedly been the discount clothing
market, which still has considerable opportunities to take sales away from the 'standard' clothing
Market Assessment estimates the current market for discount clothing at £4.7bn. However, the
major operators in this sector such as Matalan are growing fast, and year-on-year growth in excess
of 10% across the sector can be anticipated for the near future. Growth in sales in other sectors,
however, is difficult to predict especially with continuing price pressures.
Womenswear is the largest sector within the market in general, clothing for women and children is
worth double the market for men and boyswear. This reflects the inclusion of babywear and
accessories in the 'womenswear' sector, but also the simple fact that women buy clothes more
frequently for themselves and often spend more per year than a man.
Within womenswear, day clothing and outer clothing are the primary sectors by value, and this is
the sector most sensitive to changes in weather, fashion and disposable income. Unusually, hot or
cold conditions can cause havoc in clothing manufacturing order cycles, as can a trend that simply
fails to take-off. The industry is moving to just in time (JIT) production systems, but the volumes
and range of sizes and colours required across ranges means that this is not necessarily easy to
Sales of womenswear in 1999 suffered from a combination of these factors and the 'missed target'
by major retailers such as Marks and Spencer, had a disproportionate effect across the whole
market. Major retailers such as Laura Ashley, Next and Monsoon have all misread the all-important
female fashion market in 1998/1999, and had to rapidly restructure their offer. So Marks and
Spencer, though it has an exceptionally high profile, was not actually exceptional in other respects.
The major groups in UK clothing retailing are the mixed and department stores, led by Marks and
Spencer and the men's and womenswear chain Arcadia (which includes both the Burton Group and
Selfridges clothing chains).
Marks and Spencer alone accounts for almost 15% of all clothing sales in the UK, a scale of
operation only approached by the joint sales of Arcadia. However, all High Street department
stores, such as BhS, House of Fraser and Debenhams, rely heavily on their clothing sales, which
range from standard everyday products through to premium concessions (such as those operated
by Alexon and William Baird).
Fashion chains are highly fragmented and a large proportion appear to be targeting the same
consumer the young woman on a limited budget. However, the emergence of discount warehouses
over the last five years is challenging this sector as prices offered through Matalan, Bay Trading or
TJ Hughes are significantly below most High Street fashion brands.
The main regulation that has impacted across the textile and fashion business has been the
minimum wage. Textiles and clothing manufacture have historically been poorly paid businesses,
which in turn impacted on wholesale prices and margins through the business. Labour costs are a
major element of costing and this has been a key reason why manufacture is moving out of the UK.
However, this is becoming a matter of public concern since British jobs are being replaced by
potentially exploitative manufacturing elsewhere. Several newspapers reported in late 1999 that
'Conditions in a number of clothing factories in eastern Europe, being used by British High Street
retailers such as C&A, Debenhams, Laura Ashley and Marks and Spencer, are shameful with
workers being paid starvation wages and having to work in environments which are damaging to
their health. In Hirlau, Romania, 900 women are producing clothes for British stores with some only
being paid 20 pence an hour' (Sunday Times, September 1999).
The changes to the Multi-Fibre Agreement, which will phase in over the next couple of years, will
open the UK market to even more low priced imports, in a market which is already estimated to be
almost 70% imported. Eastern Europe has become an important source of tailored articles and the
future for UK-sourced goods appears to be shrinking rapidly into sectors such as high specification
fabrics, (eg cashmere) or tailoring.
Retail regulation has had less impact in clothing than other sectors such as food. Clothes shops are
not as regulated as food stores and their scale of operation means that most do not run into
planning problems - the only stores where planning permission is a major concern are department
However, the scale of the retail estate of most significant clothing chains is large, as clothing is
often an impulse buy, locations in high traffic areas are a must. Other factors such as business
rates place a large part in the costs of clothes retailing, as does rent in general. Fashion stores are
the core offer in out-of-town shopping malls such as Bluewater or Trafford Park, and it is fashion
stores that normally take the prime A1 sites in city centre developments. Regent Street in London
is a case in point. Department stores, with their strong mid- to upper-market fashion position, are
still normally the anchor stores for new developments.
The age distribution of the UK population is going to show some major shifts over the next 10
years, of which the well-documented decline in the teen market is probably the most important for
clothing chains. Many specialised fashion chains lead on their young fashion offer, which will be a
shrinking proportion of the total market.
Peak spending in some high value sectors such as outer wear is already in the older age groups,
with a high level of spend among the over 50s. The good news, however, is that the over 50s are
no longer always identifying themselves as a separate fashion group. Fashions, that are not teen-
related, are worn by men and women of any age from 30 upwards and this has been noted
especially in the trend to less formal wear. Garments such as jeans, chinos, casual shirts and
sweaters are effectively ageless, as long as they are not outrageously youthful in design.
The market in the future
The pressure on pricing and the phasing out of the Multi-Fibre Agreement (a result of the latest
Gatt talks) means that the UK market will be opened up to even more cheap imported clothing.
This will play into the discounters' hands, even if the expected entry of Wal-Mart into the UK Market
(after its takeover of Asda, which already has a sizeable clothing business) does not happen as
quickly as many anticipate.
The bulk and standard clothing end of the market - the mainstay of High Street stores such as
Marks and Spencer - will come under much more pressure, unless stores differentiate their
products far more in terms of quality and style. It is notable how youth-orientated the UK clothing
retail market is, at a time when the youth market itself is shrinking and when the highest
disposable incomes are in older age groups.
By 2004, because of the real decreases in prices which are anticipated to largely cancel out any
volume increases in the market, the total market is expected to be worth £29.9bn, or only 7%
more than it is in 2000. Sales of men's and boyswear are expected to grow slightly more rapidly
than women's and girlswear due to the increasing interest in sports clothing, which is becoming
part of the mainstream clothing offer.
Ordering: Order Online - http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/3557/
Order by Fax - using the form below
Order by Post - print the order form below and sent to
Research and Markets,
Page 1 of 2
Fax Order Form
To place an order via fax simply print this form, fill in the information below and fax the completed form to 646-607-
1907 (from USA) or +353-1-481-1716 (from Rest of World). If you have any questions please visit
Please verify that the product information is correct and select the format(s) you require.
Product Name: Clothing Retailers Market Assessment
Web Address: http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/3557/
Office Code: OC8HNNMSLUPPY
Please select the product formats and quantity you require:
Hard Copy - : EURO €878.00 + Euro €50 Shipping/Handling *
Electronic - : EURO €878.00
* Shipping/Handling is only charged once per order.
Please enter all the information below in BLOCK CAPITALS
Title: Mr Mrs Dr Miss Ms Prof
First Name: Last Name:
Email Address: *
Postal / Zip Code:
* Please refrain from using free email accounts when ordering (e.g. Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL)
Page 2 of 2
Please indicate the payment method you would like to use by selecting the appropriate box.
Pay by credit card: American Express
(for Diners Club only)
Pay by check: Please post the check, accompanied by this form, to:
Research and Markets,
Please transfer funds to:
Pay by wire transfer:
Account number 833 130 83
Sort code 98-53-30
Swift code ULSBIE2D
IBAN number IE78ULSB98533083313083
Bank Address Ulster Bank,
27-35 Main Street,
If you have a Marketing Code please enter it below:
Please note that by ordering from Research and Markets you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions at
Please fax this form to:
(646) 607-1907 or (646) 964-6609 - From USA
+353 1 481 1716 or +353 1 653 1571 - From Rest of World