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Beleaguered fashion market suffers 2% drop amid 'shopper fatigue' warning

The British fashion market has suffered its steepest decline since August 2009 as retailers struggle to sell off piles of stock at vastly reduced prices.

The beleaguered market for clothes, footwear and accessories saw almost £750 million knocked off its total value in the 52 weeks to December 18, a 2% drop compared with the year before, Kantar Worldpanel figures show.

Retailers are hoping the anticipated cold snap over coming days will send shoppers out in search of warmer clothing.

But Kantar consumer insight director Glen Tooke said fashion retailers continued to struggle with overbuying and deep discounting, the same issues that had dogged the market for several years, while Black Friday had led to a "serious case of shopper fatigue".

He said: "It's been another difficult year for British fashion as we've seen still more value driven out of the market.

"A 2% drop in sales is a serious cause for concern, particularly when you consider that the lowest point the market reached in the wake of recession was a 3.1% slump in May 2009."

He added: "Gone are the days of buying a new winter coat come rain or shine. Consumers are far more flexible in their approach to shopping and many retailers have been left behind.

"The result is piles of leftover stock these shops then have to sell off at vastly reduced prices.

Black Friday had done little to lift the fashion market, with the hype proving insufficient to compensate for the sales hit from heavy discounting.

Mr Tooke said: "We're also seeing a serious case of shopper fatigue.

"Black Friday is now simply viewed as the beginning of the Christmas sales and shoppers know that the discounts will only get deeper as the festive season continues so are likely to hold off buying in the hope of a better bargain later on."

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