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Monday, 13 March, 2000, 16:27 GMT
Hard times at UK clothes shops
Asda shop
More shoppers buy clothes as well as food at Asda
Life is set to get tougher for the UK's clothing retailers.

Low prices and low growth are to become a fact of life, a new survey suggests

Clothes shops can also expect greater competition from supermarkets and discount stores, whose lines of clothes are expected to become increasingly popular, the report by consultancy Verdict suggests.

Asda's George clothes range has fared well
"The clothing market has changed fundamentally and forever," Verdict said in its report.

Uninspiring clothes

UK clothing retailers have fallen on hard times because they offer uninspired ranges and consumers are shopping less for clothes as a result.

Shoppers' loyalty to particular stores is also waning.

A year ago, 86.6% of shoppers were loyal to their main store, compared with 75.1% now.

Consumer spending is flat in both menswear and womenswear, resulting in greater competition and price deflation, it suggests.

Winners and losers

Already, the shake-out in the clothing sector has seen some high profile casualties.

Marks & Spencer has seen its market share fall to 13% from 16.1% in womenswear and to 12.3% from 13.9% in menswear.

Other ailing chains include BHS, which Verdict described as "no longer viable in its current form."

Next has seen its market share increase
There are some exceptions to the rule. Next has seen its share of womenswear rise to 4.7% from 4.1% and menswear from 4.4% to 5.0%.

No longer naff

Likely winners of the shake out are discount retailers.

More and more supermarkets are stocking clothes and as customers realise the value of the goods on offer, they have overcome the perception of supermarket clothes as naff.

Among those who are doing well are Asda which has seen its share of the UK's clothing market grow.

Asda has marketed a range of clothes under the George brand. Its range of the clothes market has risen from 2.2% to 2.4%.

Discount chain Matalan also saw its share of the market grow, the report suggested.
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See also:

11 Jan 00 | Business
M&S: A brand new challenge
20 Jan 00 | Business
Clothes stores feel the chill
12 Jan 00 | Business
Pressure on the High Street
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