UK clothing & footwear market forecast to decline by £14.0bn this year

Set to be the worst hit sector by the COVID-19 pandemic, UK clothing & footwear spend is anticipated to plummet in 2020, falling 26.1% versus 2019, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

 Chloe Collins, Senior Retail Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “As the government has extended the UK lockdown for at least three more weeks, we expect that offline clothing & footwear sales in 2020 will further contract, falling 33.6% on the year, as the demand for fashion is increasingly decimated. With other European countries, such as Austria and Italy, gradually loosening their restrictions and keeping most non-essential stores closed, we expect fashion stores in the UK to remain shuttered for a number of weeks once the lockdown is eventually lifted, and not begin reopening until June.”

 While we predict that fashion stores will start to gradually reopen in June, footfall is expected to remain low as consumers will be cautious about visiting crowded areas, and prioritise catching up with family and friends that they have been unable to see during lockdown. Consumers will also prefer to spend time outside enjoying the summer weather rather than browsing retail stores, and will focus spend on experiences over fashion items.

Collins continues: “We expect several retail casualties within the fashion sector in the coming weeks, with Debenhams, Oasis and Warehouse already entering administration, and Arcadia said to be considering more store closures. Therefore, more empty spaces are anticipated on the high street, limiting physical fashion spend further.”

 In contrast to offline clothing & footwear sales, we expect online sales to fare better, only declining by 7.9% in 2020, however this will not be enough to offset the loss in spend from physical stores.

 Collins adds: “After initially closing on 26 March, Next reopened its website last week, though at limited capacity due to enhanced safety measures, which has put pressure on other players with closed online operations to follow suit. Quiz, Fenwick and River Island have all resumed selling online again, and TK Maxx has made its website available for browsing only, though it should aim to restart warehouse operations as soon as possible so that it can take orders, as it has strong potential to drive sales of activewear during the lockdown.”

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