Fashion demand to slow as consumers brace for price hike

As the outcome of the Brexit remains uncertain, UK consumers are bracing themselves for an expensive future. 83 percent of Brits are concerned prices may increase on goods and services soon, with 26 percent of consumers fearing a growth in clothing prices, according to Mintel's British Lifestyles report. This fear, combined with the fact that consumers are choosing to spend their money on other activities, means the UK fashion market is expected to grow a much slower pace this year.

Mintel estimates fashion sales will grow a mere 1.9 percent in 2017 - down from 2.4 percent growth rate in 2016 and 5.6 percent in 2015. Although the UK fashion sector has remained relatively strong in the past, the market has continued to slow down over the years as consumer increasingly prioritize spending money on other leisure activities, such as eating out or a weekend away, then on clothing and footwear. In comparison, the entertainment and leisure sector in the UK grew 3.2 percent in 2016, which is more than the fashion market in the same period.

Fashion demand to slow as consumers brace for price hike

UK fashion sales growth slow in wake of Brexit

The UK fashion is already facing challenging times, and the uncertainty following Brexit will put even more fashion retailers under pressure. Even though most retailers were not directly affected by the devaluation of the pound following the vote to leave the EU, they are likely to be impacted by increased costs in 2017, which will more likely than not result in higher clothing and footwear prices - a detrimental hit to the market.

However, in spite of Brexit woes, there is one category within the fashion sector which is predicted to do well - menswear. The men's clothing market has been growing at a faster rate than womenswear, with sales increasing 2.8 percent in 2016 and is predicted to increase 23 percent over the next five years to 17.3 billion pounds. In addition, just one in five men said they spent less on clothing over the past year in comparison to one in four women (26 percent).

“Whilst womenswear continues to be the dominant category across most of the UK fashion sectors, growth in clothing, footwear, and accessories is being driven by menswear purchases, as male consumers take a greater interest in their personal appearance," commented Samantha Dover, retail analyst at Mintel. "Across the board, footwear and sportswear are proving to be the most robust categories – benefiting from changing lifestyle trends."

"However, as a whole, the fashion sector is facing difficult times: consumers are prioritizing leisure activities when spending disposable income, and high levels of discounting are stunting sales growth. The challenge for fashion retailers in future will be to encourage full-price purchasing, with season-less products and more innovative and personalized in-store experiences likely to resonate.”

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