British Fashion sees first growth since Brexit

Nearly three fashion seasons have passed since the British voted to leave the European Union, with the industry suffering a much-documented decline since that eponymous day in June 2016. Up until now that is.

According to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel, the UK fashion retail sector saw growth of 0.2 per cent in the full year period ending September 24, despite inflation, despite consumer ambivalence and despite the changing faces of the retail industry.

Christmas 2017 to boost retail sales, Black Friday not

According to the Retail Gazette, the increase in sales was worth only 66 million pounds, but Kantar predicts it will continue improving as the Christmas shopping season approaches. However, with 2016 Black Friday fashion sales declining by 16 per cent year-on-year as many retailers actively rejected the initiative in the lead-up to Christmas, Kantar warned the industry to not to fall back into a “pattern of discounting for discounting’s sake” if it wanted to see long term growth.

Consumers are buying fashion at full price

The latest figures also show that fashion items sold at full price are now driving market growth – up two per cent year-on-year. Kantar said full price sales contributed an additional 483 million pounds to the market since this time last year, while discounting is down 2.7 per cent during the same period with 98 million fewer units sold on promotion.

“For years we’ve seen heavy discounting and this created an atmosphere of mistrust: consumers felt clothing wasn’t worth its full price,” Kantar consumer insight director Glen Tooke said.

“Retailers have made a significant effort to address this by focusing on getting the value right from the off and as a result shoppers have more confidence in buying at the original price. He added: “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.”

Consumer buy more when they shop

“Consumers may be buying more every time they shop, but at the same time they’re shopping less frequently – making two fewer visits per year on average compared to 2015,” he said. “For some time, retailers have been investing in improving the shopping experience – tapping into the trend for more experiential purchases with messaging around how fashion can contribute to a great night out or holiday.

“However, as consumers’ appetite for innovation grows, retailers need to keep thinking of new ways to stand out from the crowd.”

Kantar’s figures on the fashion sector, which covers clothing, footwear and accessories, comes a day after the Office for National Statistics revealed that overall retail sales volumes fell 0.8 per month-on-month in September.

According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, September saw UK retail sales increase by 1.9 percent on a like-for-like basis from September 2016, when they had increased 0.4 percent from the preceding year.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive British Retail Consortium stated: September saw a second consecutive month of relatively good sales growth which should indicate welcome news for retailers and the economy alike. Looking beneath the surface though, we see that much of this growth is being driven by price increases filtering through, particularly in food and clothing, which were the highest performing product categories for the month. Retailers have worked hard to keep a lid on price rises following the depreciation of the pound.

Photo credit: City of London skyline, Wikipedia Commons; article source The Retail Gazette