Budget clothing rescues the fashion industry

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The Independent Online

Cheap clothes in supermarkets and budget chains are saving the fashion industry from a slump, according to new research from the analysts Verdict published today.

Sales of moderate to expensive clothing grew only 0.1 per cent in 2005 and came to a standstill in 2006 while the "value" sector rose 11 per cent last year and 10 per cent this year, said Verdict.

The report said: "The average spend per head on clothing has increased by just £12.00 per annum in both 2005 and 2006, and £11.80 of this has gone to value retailers. Without the growth the value segment has produced the clothing market would be heading for negative territory."

The market for value clothes is now worth £7.8bn a year - 23.7 per cent of the total clothes market, according to Verdict's report, UK Value Clothing Retailers 2006. The report said Asda's George was the market leader with 17.3 per cent, followed by Primark on 15.7 per cent, New Look with 11.4 per cent and Tesco with 11 per cent. Matalan had 10.7 per cent and TK Maxx 10 per cent.

Lorna Hall, of the fashion business magazine Drapers said: "People used to be very excited about the January sales, but now no one is interested. People want a bargain the whole time."

The research tallies with results from high street retailers. Last week Sir Philip Green's Arcadia chain reported like-for-like sales down 1.9 per cent. In April, Primark's half year figures showed a 6 per cent like-for-like sales rise while earlier this month Tesco said clothing sales were up by 19 per cent.