The British fashion market has witnessed its steepest decline in sales since 2009, according to new data. Figures from Kantar Worldpanel covering the year to 25 September show that the sector, which encompasses clothing, footwear and accessories, has seen four months of consecutive sales decline.
Almost £700m has been lost from the value of the market compared to last year, Kantar added.
The research group's consumer insight director Glen Tooke said: “Fashion retailers are still following the same patterns of over-buying and deep discounting and consumers are increasingly reluctant to pay full price.
“Retailers have responded to falling sales by investing less in their lines, when what they need to be doing instead is addressing these problems more proactively. Rather than chasing after the same 'micro trends' as every one of their competitors, they need to work on understanding what their customers really want and to fulfil their needs.”
Fashion retailers have had a torrid time of late. Earlier this year Next boss Lord Simon Wolfson warned that trading has been “challenging and volatile” as the retailer reported sliding profits. Last month, womenswear retailer Bonmarche issued a profit warning, saying “unseasonably hot weather” in September melted sales of its autumn ranges.
To compound matters, Kantar's data does not factor in the collapse of BHS. “Our latest figures don't take into account the closure of BHS, which shut its doors for the last time at the end of August. The retailer was worth over £400m in sales so if this spend isn't reapportioned throughout the market then we'll be seeing the decline continue,” Mr Tooke added.