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How online will help retailers grow the value clothing market: study

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Online sales of value clothing are set to see rapid growth over the next five years, according to a new study from Verdict Retail.

The analyst says in its UK Value Clothing Market 2016-2021 report that 11.5% of value clothing sales currently take place online, compared to 22.5% of sales across the total UK clothing and footwear market. By 2021, it predicts, online value clothing sales will grow by 84.9% to reach a 17.2% share of the market.

The growth will come as the UK value clothing market grows by £3.2bn, or 23.6%, over the next five years.

But this growth will only come if retailers invest both in-store and online. Personalisation will be key online, says Kate Ormrod, senior analyst at Verdict Retail, who also points to the importance of a range of delivery options.

“With value players’ high volume of SKUs, investment in online filtering is key,” said Ormrod. “This will allay the risk of shoppers becoming overwhelmed with extensive ranges and failing to find what they are looking for, resulting in unfruitful visits and dissatisfaction. Editorial content showcasing new products and trend-led ranges must sit alongside price-led marketing that targets cash-strapped shoppers.”

Ormrod predicts that menswear will drive the growth in value clothing, growing by 29.2% by 2021.

“Menswear has taken a back seat over the past decade as value retailers have been focusing on enhancing womenswear offers,” she said. “However, as male interest in fashion and personal appearance builds, retailers are starting to respond to male consumers’ growing demands for more choice, style, and newness.

“The likes of H&M and New Look have an opportunity to make significant share gains, but they must drive destination appeal and loyalty among shoppers.”

Verdict Retail’s survey of 10,000 UK consumers found that the country’s value clothing shoppers now place more importance on value for money and quality than they have previously, with value for money scoring 8.6 out of 10 for importance when it comes to store selection, and quality scoring 8.4.

“Focusing solely on price will not satisfy value clothing shoppers,” said Ormrod. “Retailers will lose favour if they opt to downgrade the quality of fabric and fit of their clothes to protect margins and offset rising inflationary pressures caused by the weak pound following Britain’s decision to leave the EU.”

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