UK sees mass-market fashion accessories downturn say analysts

The UK’s premium and luxury accessories sector may be basking in a wave of foreign tourists attracted by the weak pound, but the situation further down the price scale is less buoyant.


In fact, a many as four million UK consumers stopped buying fashion accessories in 2017, according to the analysts at GlobalData.

The research firm said that the share of UK clothing shoppers who purchased accessories fell from 50.6% in 2016 to 40.9% in 2017. The figures being based on a survey of 5,000 people equate to the four million fewer consumers mentioned, as well as to as much as £390 million in lost revenue.

Its UK Accessories Market 2017-2022 report said this calculation is based on an average annual spend per head of £98, and led to the market seeing a volume decline of 0.8% in 2017 compared to flat sales volumes a year earlier.

The firm’s principal retail analyst Honor Strachan said: “Replacement purchases are now the main trigger of purchasing accessories among domestic shoppers, compared to consumers spending to treat themselves. This puts huge pressure on retailers to encourage ‘trading up’, or to diversify to make up for absent sales.”

But while the upgrade cycle of higher priced goods (from handbags to smartphones) has been widely discussed, a slower replacement cycle at lower price points is less talked about.

GlobalData said that consumers will extend replacement cycles during periods of “restrained discretionary spending,” a major blow for retailers. “Wants-driven purchases have become more challenging, particularly for specialists Accessorize and Claire’s, which are unable to stimulate footfall via other categories,” it said.

Strachan added: “While the premium and luxury segments of the UK fashion accessories market bask in the attention of high-spending overseas visitors, the mass-market players are suffering from a major drop in domestic consumer willingness.”

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