UK fashion industry statistics

General data

Population: 67,081,000 (Mid-year estimate 2020)

Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Labor force: 29.8 million (October 2022)


Unemployment rate: 3.6% (July-September 2022)

Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS)

GDP per capita (PPS): £31,793 (2021)

Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS)

UK: the economy, household budget, and expenditure on clothing and footwear


The United Kingdom is the fifth largest economy worldwide: the UK accounts for 3.32% percent of the total global economy.

Soure: Investopedia article 'The Top 25 Economies in the World', based on The World Bank data GDP 2020. Last updated in September, 2022.

Household budget and household expenditure

In 2022 the average UK household budget is £671 per week, £2,907 a month, £34,886 a year based on an average of 2.4 people per household, according to an analysis of ONS Family Spending data by

The average household expenditures on clothing and footwear is 4% of their budget. On average they spent £25 per week, £109 per month, £1,308 annually.

Writes NibleFins in the article ‘Average UK Household Budget 2023’, last updated November 2022, based on data analyses 2019/20 Living Costs and Food Survey from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

UK clothing market share

The UK is the third largest apparel and footwear market worldwide The UK is the third largest apparel and footwear market worldwide, after China and the United States, with a market size of 70.7 billion dollars (approximately 67.54 billion euros or 57.92 billion pounds).

Source: Euromonitor International, a market research provider

How much is spent on clothing?

Brits spend almost 45 billion pounds on clothing and textiles, according to a report by ukft. That number has steadily increased over the past decade and, despite the pandemic knocking around 10 billion pounds off the figure, its growth is expected to continue over the coming years. It was better news for online retailers during the pandemic, who saw sales of clothing and footwear increase 31 percent in 2020 to an all-time-high. (We have more information in the ‘e-commerce’ paragraph).

Source: UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT)’s Compendium of Industry Statistics and Analysis 2020, September 2021.

In 2018, UK households spent around 65.4 billion euros on clothing.

Source: Household consumption expenditure on clothing in the European Union in 2018, by country, Statista 2022

Scope of Fashion in the UK

Contribution to the UK Economy

In the United Kingdom, the fashion and textile industry contributes almost £20 billion to the economy.

Source: UKFT’s Compendium of Industry Statistics and Analysis 2020, September 2021.

UK: Employment in the fashion and textile industry

The fashion and textile industry in England, Wales and Scotland employs 500,000 people, comprising 88,000 employed in manufacturing, 62,000 in wholesale, and 413,000 in retail.

Source: UKFT’s Compendium of Industry Statistics and Analysis 2020, September 2021.

Businesses in fashion

As of 2020, there were 34,045 businesses operating within the UK fashion and textile sector: 30,035 retailers, 8,825 wholesalers, and 8,245 manufacturers.

The UK fashion and textile industry is dominated by SMEs. Most of the businesses are micro businesses (with up to 9 people) in retail, wholesale and manufacturing: respectively 90%, 85%, and 80%.

Source: UKFT’s Compendium of Industry Statistics and Analysis 2020, September 2021.

Garment Manufacturing in the UK

The number of UK garment manufacturers increased by 13 percent in the ten years to 2020 to 4,005. It marked a reversal of what had been a steady decline in previous years due to a lack of investment and cheaper manufacturing possibilities abroad.

Source: UKFT’s Compendium of Industry Statistics and Analysis 2020, September 2021.

Export & Import UK fashion apparel

The UK exported £8.9 billion of fashion and textiles in 2020, down from £9.7 billion in 2019.

Lets zoom in on the numbers for fashion/apparel.

Apparel exports

UK apparel exports fell to 6.3 billion pounds in 2020 from 6.8 billion pounds in 2019. A more dramatic drop in 2020 appears to have mostly been driven by falling EU export revenue, suggesting EU countries were already downsizing their exposure to the UK in anticipation of additional complications and costs associated with the end of the Brexit transition period at the beginning of 2021.

However, EU exports still accounted for 70 percent of total export revenue for clothing producers in 2020, making it by far the most important single export market. The top 10 markets for UK apparel exports in 2020 were Germany, Ireland, France, the US, Italy, Australia, Netherlands, South Korea, Israel and Spain.

Apparel imports

The UK imported 19.7 billion pounds of clothing in 2020, a drop from 20.2 billion pounds a year earlier. Despite that drop, however, the value of clothing imports increased by 32 percent between 2008 and 2020. That increase was mostly driven by imports of clothing from EU countries, which doubled in value between 2008 and 2017. In that same period, non-EU imports rose by 16 percent. The top 10 import markets for clothing in 2020 were: China, Bangladesh, Turkey, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong, France and Spain.

Source: UKFT’s Compendium of Industry Statistics and Analysis 2020, published in September 2021.

Specialised clothing retail stores & wholesalers

In 2020, there were 11,330 clothing retail stores in the UK.

Source: Statista Apparel market in the United Kingdom (UK) - statistics & facts, August 2022

In 2022, there were 155 clothing and footwear wholesalers with a turnover between £5 and £10 million.

Source: Statista Number of enterprises for the wholesale of clothing and footwear in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2022, November 2022.

British Clothing Brands

Top Fashion Retailers UK

Top 10 clothing and footwear retailers from the UK are:

  1. Primark,(owned by Associated British Food)
  2. Marks & Spencer) (M&S)
  3. Next)
  4. George (supermarket fashion label at Asda)
  5. Arcadia (NB: A former high street giant and owner of Topshop that recently collapsed))
  6. TK Maxx (owned by TJX)
  7. JD (JD Sports Fashion, owner of JD Sports and Go Outdoors)
  8. Tesco
  9. Debenhams (owned by Boohoo Group)
  10. John Lewis

States: Retail Top 10 UK Retailers Clothing & Footwear, Source: Financial reports, Consumer Surveys, Retail Economics analysis

Other large British Fashion Retail Companies and Fashion Brands

What clothing brands, online shopping sites, retail companies and famous department stores are from the UK? Frasers Group, River Island, Asos, Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing, Missguided, Dorothy Perkins, [Selfridges], Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Sports Direct, New Look, Quiz, Flannels, Laura Ashley, French Connection, Ted Baker, Oasis, Superdry, Matalan, Jack Wills, Jigsaw, Clarsk, All Saints, Asa, Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, Liberty, Karen Millen, Barbour, Whistles, Oasis, Ebay and Amazon (UK).

UK: British Fashion Designers and fashion houses

Well known luxury brands and fashion designers from the UK include Mulberry, Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Vivienne Westwood, Victoria Beckham, Stella Mcartney, Paul Smith, Jonathan Saunders, Mary Quant, Ozwald Boateng and Stephen Jones. Other names to know are Molly Goddard, Bianca Saunders, Grace Wales Bonner, Saul Nash, and Craig Green.

E-commerce: the Brits like shopping online

The United Kingdom is the leader in B2C e-commerce turnover in Europe

Western Europeans are the ones most used to shopping online, as most B2C ecommerce is concentrated in this region. Most online shopping is done in the UK.

The top three European B2C e-commerce countries by turnover are: UK (236 billion pounds), France (112 billion pounds), Germany (93.6 billion pounds) and Spain (68.4 billion pounds).

The UK holds the first position when it comes to most e-shoppers per country (92%), and the highest E-GDP - the percentage of GDP comprised e-commerce sales - in 2020 (9.92%).

Most popular social media channels in 2021 in the UK are: Facebook (52%), Pinterest (25%), Twitter (13%), Instagram (5%) and YouTube (2%).

Source: Eurostat, IMF and Statcounter, from the European E-Commerce Report 2021

Online clothing shopping statistics

Fashion accounts for a 31% share of the UK eCommerce market

Online retail sales for textiles, clothing and footwear increased to an all-time high of 31% in 2020.

Source: UKFT’s Compendium of Industry Statistics and Analysis 2020, published in September 2021.

In the UK, the fashion e-commerce segment generates a revenue of US$37 billion in 2021, which amounts to a 31% share of the entire e-commerce market in the United Kingdom.

Source: EcommerceDB e-commerce market analysis, Fashion in the UK.

The top online fashion stores in the UK *by ecommerce net sales 2021


Source: EcommerceDB e-commerce market analysis, Fashion in the UK.

T-shirts, tops and trainers drive UK online fashion spend T-shirts, tops and trainers are the most commonly purchased clothing items when it comes to buying online. Sandals, smart shoes and boots are also popular.

Source: research Royal Mail, March 2019.

In the U.K. there are over 10,000 fashion-related searches every minute.

From Think with Google 'The future of fashion: 3 emerging trends from the coronavirus pandemic' Source: Google data, UK, Fashion, August 2020.

Clothing bought online amounts to 23 percent of all fashion sales.

Source: UK Cards Association, 2017.

Last update: November 2022, published in December 2022.