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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 01:07 GMT
Womenswear sales hit 10-year low
Window shopping on Oxford Street
Just window shopping? Sales have slumped on the high street
Female consumers are proving harder to please as spending on womenswear has suffered its lowest growth for more than a decade, according to a survey.

Although shops have responded to the downturn by slashing their prices, shoppers have been unmoved by this, retail consultancy Verdict said.

Its survey showed spending on womenswear grew by just 0.8% in 2000 over 1999.
High street chain M&S
Marks & Spencer has tried to revamp its image

Women, it seems, are choosing to spend more of their money on makeovers for their home or garden rather than on new things to wear.

Verdict said that 85% of women surveyed said they did not believe value for money had improved over the past year.

If the market is to stage a comeback, style, quality and merchandising are going to have to improve, said the retail analysts.

Retailers need to work on innovation, move away from aggressive price cutting, and strengthen communication of brand values in order to win over customers, Verdict said.

Brighter outlook

Despite the subdued market, 2001 promises to be the "most dynamic year" for many years in the womenswear market, according to the survey.

High street chains such as Bhs, Arcadia - the Top Shop-to-Dorothy Perkins group - and Marks & Spencer are all under severe pressure to perform, Verdict said.

And C&A's exit from the high street will provide those left with the chance to grab that chain's former customers, it said.

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See also:

22 Mar 00 | Business
M&S unveils new look
15 Jun 00 | Business
Unions condemn C&A closures
23 May 00 | Business
M&S confirms gloom
15 Sep 00 | Business
New boss at Bhs
19 Oct 00 | Business
Arcadia plunges into loss
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