Women's clothing sector: must-read reports and statistics

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Global Women’s Clothing Industry


The global women’s clothing industry is expected to exceed $621 billion in 2014, marking a 12% increase in five years, reports MarketLine. Clothing retailers account for the largest share of the market at almost 65% in terms of value. The EU represents more than 35% of the global market, which encompasses formalwear, essentials, active wear, outerwear and casual wear.


Major drivers of the world womenswear market include fashion, with shoppers eager to keep up with the latest trends, consumer confidence and rising income levels. Compared with the lows of the economic recession, employment rates and per capital disposable income levels are rising, which leads to greater consumer confidence, allowing consumers to part with their cash more easily.


As consumers made less purchases during the economic recession, retailers currently find themselves with a product surplus. To shift their stock and take advantage of rising consumer confidence, retailers are offering discounts, which encourages spending and helps get consumers back into stores and shopping.


Regional Markets


  • The US womenswear industry was severely affected by the housing and economic crisis. As unemployment meant lower levels of disposable income, family budgets had less room for women’s apparel. The industry fell more than 5% year-on-year in 2009. The industry has witnessed a degree of recovery since 2010, with near 0.5% growth, climbing higher again in 2011. Cheap imports will likely constitute the main challenge faced by the US womenswear industry in coming years.


  • According to research from MarketLine, Mexico, South Africa, Hungary, Taiwan, Brazil and Poland are predicted to generate combined sales of almost $37.4 billion in 2014. This would mean an annual growth rate of over 5% for five years.


  • China is predicted to become the global leader in the womenswear market by 2014, exceeding $72.4 billion, reports MarketLine.


  • The UK womenswear market is facing particular challenges such as market saturation and maturing leading players. Retailers seek to differentiate by offering niche clothing like maternity wear. The plus size market segment alone expanded as much as 6% in 2011, compared with less than 1.5% growth for the overall UK market, reports Verdict. Sales in the petites market segment are predicted to expand by almost 26% in the five-year period ending 2015. Two leading players on the UK market Primark and Marks & Spencer recorded less than 0.5% growth in 2010. M&S held a 12% market share in 2010. Arcadia recorded more than 0.5% growth in 2010, having merged with Bhs, according to Verdict. While some retailers offer niche clothing, others will benefit from diversifying into non-clothing market segments such as household wares and health and beauty products to entice shoppers into their stores.



Key Market Segments


  • The world bridal wear industry is expected to reach almost $57 billion by 2015, according to Global Industry Analysts. This market segment is less influenced by economic environment than other womenswear market segments as consumers are generally motivated to splash out on a wedding dress. In the EU, the bridal wear market is lead by Germany, the UK, Spain and France. The EU region is expected to record the highest yearly rate of growth, at almost 7% a year through 2015.


  • Research from Euromonitor shows that women’s leggings represented the most rapidly-growing segment in the women’s outerwear market. This segment expanded by 10% in 2010, with sales of over 8,025 million units. Value sales grew almost 20% to reach close to $155 million, pointing to higher prices.



Market Outlook


Though the global womenswear industry is recovering following the economic recession, the retailing landscape continues to witness changes. Consumer preference for specialty shops over department stores means growth in the latter is slowing.


Consumer confidence is rising after a period of high unemployment as disposable income continues to rise, driving the market. Pricing power is moderate, because of big-box retailers, apart from in the high-end section of the market. E-commerce will continue to attract increasing numbers of consumers.



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