The UK value clothing market is set to grow by £3.2 billion over the next five years, with the forecast 2021 market value equating to 23.6% growth on the 2016 figure, according to retail research and analysis firm Verdict Retail.
The company's latest report states that the menswear segment will be the main market driver, outpacing womenswear with its forecast growth of 29.2% by 2021.
Kate Ormrod, senior analyst at Verdict Retail, explains: "Menswear has taken a back seat over the past decade as value retailers have been focusing on enhancing womenswear offers. However, as male interest in fashion and personal appearance builds, retailers are starting to respond to male consumers' growing demands for more choice, style, and newness.
"The likes of H&M and New Look have an opportunity to make significant share gains, but they must drive destination appeal and loyalty among shoppers."
Verdict Retail's survey of 10,000 UK consumers found that the country's value clothing shoppers now place more importance on value for money and quality than they have previously, with value for money scoring 8.6 out of 10 for importance when it comes to store selection, and quality scoring 8.4.
Ormrod continues: "Focusing solely on price will not satisfy value clothing shoppers. Retailers will lose favour if they opt to downgrade the quality of fabric and fit of their clothes to protect margins and offset rising inflationary pressures caused by the weak pound following Britain's decision to leave the EU.
"Value players need to make investment across the board with improved instore merchandising, a personalised shopping experience online with a range of delivery options, enhanced product design and quality, and regular newness to entice frequent spending and retain shopper loyalty."
In 2016, Verdict Retail forecasts that the online channel will account for 11.5% of the UK value clothing market, compared to 22.5% for the total UK clothing & footwear market, indicating how far behind value clothing retailers are in terms of online maturity – accentuated by Primark's notable online absence. However, over the next five years, online value clothing sales are forecast to grow by 84.9% to a share of 17.2%.
"With value players' high volume of SKUs, investment in online filtering is key. This will allay the risk of shoppers becoming overwhelmed with extensive ranges and failing to find what they are looking for, resulting in unfruitful visits and dissatisfaction. Editorial content showcasing new products and trend-led ranges must sit alongside price-led marketing that targets cash-strapped shoppers," Ormrod concludes.