childrenswearNew research from Mintel finds the supermarket is king for today’s childrenswear buyers, as more and shoppers buy childrenswear alongside their weekly shop.

For the first time ever, the supermarket is the first port of call for childrenswear shoppers, with twenty-five million Brits now buying childrenswear from the supermarket, and an additional 8.5 million, buying schoolwear at the same destination. Today, almost seven in ten (68%) shoppers purchase their childrenswear from a supermarket making it the nation’s leading childrenswear destination. Indeed, in a matter of just four years, the market share of childrenswear in supermarkets has doubled from 14% in 2004 to a substantial 29% in 2009.

Meanwhile, specialists in the childrenswear sector such as department stores (7%)and clothing multiples(26.5%) have at best only retained market share by focusing on the premium end of the market. Mail order sales (3.5%) have declined sharply as a result of rising online sales, which Mintel currently estimates to account for around 12% of sales.

Although the impact of the economic slowdown since 2007 has raised the profile of discounters and supermarkets, it has been the wider investment by such stores in improving the quality and fashion elements of their clothing that has enabled them to take on existing players in the market so successfully.

The childrenswear market has recently passed through a difficult period. The twin effects of a slowdown in the UK economy and the strengthening presence of value retailers have had the effect of reducing market value. In 2009, sales of childrenswear made a modest bounceback to £5 billion after falling in 2007 and 2008. The falls in recent years can be attributed to low-cost imports, the growth of low-price supermarkets and discounters, combined with the effects of the recent recession. Sales are expected to return to growth in 2010 (just over £5 billion) thanks to improved consumer confidence. Over the next five years, the market is forecast to grow by just 3% to a value approaching £5.2 billion.

And it is infantswear which is the real shining light in the childrenswear marketplace. Accounting for almost a third (31%) of childrenswear sales, infantswear has been a real winner in recent years. Sales of infantswear have risen 9% in the last 5 years, while the girlswear and boyswear sector have both seen decreases of over 3%. Girls and boyswear have both been badly affected by economic pressures. By contrast, infantswear has largely prospered helped by growing infant numbers, older and more affluent parents and gifting.

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