Childrenswear Retailing in the UK | Verdict Sector Report; Market size, strategic issues and competitive outlook

The childrenswear market is set to grow by 2.8% in 2015; the same level of growth achieved in 2014, and only very gradual. The composition of growth is now very different from 10 years ago, when very rapid price deflation of 4.0% drove a 7.5% rise in volume. Inflation is easing, at just 0.1% in 2015 following a period of rising sourcing costs, ensuring that growth is now becoming more organic, with volume growth of 2.7% forecast for 2015. However, while value growth in the childrenswear market has recovered to pre-recession levels, volume growth has not as parents continue to purchase more carefully – a shift we saw throughout the downturn, which we expect to see maintained.


The tween and young teen markets represent the biggest opportunity in the UK childrenswear sector for retailers to exploit over the next five years, given they are the fastest growing children’s population segments to 2020 and yet there is currently little competition specifically targeting this audience. Retailers must concentrate on tailored ranges, appropriately interpreted fashion trends and focused marketing and social media initiatives in order to take advantage

Over 50% of school uniform shoppers are prepared to spend more on school uniform items if they are designed with technical attributes such as easy iron, scuff resistant (shoes), adjustable waists and stain-resistant fabric. As a standard offer, most retailers now provide permanent pleating and Teflon coating to prevent stains, but more premium features such as non-iron and scuff resistant coating on shoes would allow them to have a more tiered price architecture – encouraging trading up and higher spend per head.

Despite the largest proportion of childrenswear retailers being positioned in the midmarket, such as Gap Kids, M&S and Next, there is considerable polarisation in the market, with retailers in the value and premium sectors performing well, which is ultimately resulting in midmarket retailers being squeezed. The midmarket is trying to fight back with greater emphasis on value ranges such as Mother care's Value Essentials range, striving to offer shoppers lower prices but maintain quality, providing a differentiator to value retailers.

Reasons to buy

Understand which categories within childrenswear are forecast to outperform and how you can grow your share of spend in these markets.

Gain a better understanding on consumer shopping habits for back to school clothing, which retailers are most popular and how frequently back to school products are purchased, to enable you to better compete in this lucrative market.

Gain knowledge of the strategies for tapping into the Tween market which is due to be the fastest growing segment of childrenswear

Identify the opportunities to grow business in this sector by comparing strategies of the key players in the market and their performance metrics

Table of Contents


Key findings


Childrenswear spending growth to reach

2.8% in 2015

Deflation set to return, boosting volumes further

Fall in the birth rate hits younger childrenswear in the short term

Value players set to gain share but their advance will slow

Back to school market highly price competitive but quality to become more important

Online childrenswear market grows by

17.1% in 2014 to reach £682m

Online to account for four fifths of childrenswear growth in next five years

Demographic trends set to boost the tween clothing market

Mini-me trend given further impetus by social media


Focus online proposition on maximising customer convenience

Cater for more leisurely online shoppers as well

Make the most of the overlap between online and offline channels

Develop quality perceptions in back to school to sidestep price rivalry

Target the demand for second hand retailing

Restructure ranges to take advantage of demographic trends toward tweens

Build spend per head in lower age bands to counteract 2013 fall in birth rates

Table of Contents

Table of Figures

List of Tables

Market Size

Market definition and analysis

Clothing market summary

Womenswear outperforms all sectors between 2010 and 2015, but this is set to change

Childrenswear in context of the clothing market

Spend on childrenswear rises £518m in five years to 2015

Most resilient clothing sector by volumes

Subsector performance

Market price segmentation

Market dominated by fashion-focused clothing retailers

Expenditure breakdown of childrenswear market

Spend per head

Additional £8.87 spent on childrenswear in 2015

Market Forecast

Childrenswear Expenditure Trends

Childrenswear to underperform all other clothing sectors

Market segmentation

Value share will grow the most over the next five years

Subsector performance




Spend per head

£35 rise in spend per head forecast

Infantswear drives spend per head

Quarterly expenditure forecasts




Deflation returns in Q1 2016

Channel Shares

Clothing specialists and grocers gain ground

Childrenswear specialists remain under pressure

Slow Mother care recovery and specialists' fight against the grocers and clothing players lead to further share declines

Growing offers from smaller grocers Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl support grocers' share of spend

Despite gains from Amazon, the demise of mail order specialists leads to general merchandisers' fall

Online and offline

Convenience will drive online across all channels

Market Shares

Childrenswear market shares

Next forecast to grow childrenswear share, maintaining lead and impacting M&S and Matalan

Primark closes in on market leader Next

Winners and losers

Matalan loses share as poor womenswear collections lead to weaker childrenswear footfall

Key operating statistics

Sainsbury's drives densities via modern shop fits and attractive visual merchandising

Space versus sales growth

Sales densities


Relevant Product Essential For Teen Market Success

Population growth

Competitive landscape

Product development


Birth rates projected to rise in five years to 2020

Average age of mothers is increasing, boosting spend per head

Broad choice and a price-competitive offer ensure grocers remain popular among parents

Specialists must find a point of differentiation to regain lost ground

Midmarket womenswear players foray into babywear

Midmarket players must capitalise on gifting to drive spend

School Uniform Shopping Habits

While competitive prices are crucial, quality is more important

Consumer willingness to pay more for technical design features bodes well for retailers

Non-traditional players tap into school uniform market

Online now a major channel for uniform shopping

Shopper profile

Shopper spend

Online share of spend

Shopper frequency

Drivers of spend

Valued technical attributes in school uniform

Retailers visited

Items purchased

Retailer shares of items purchased

Items purchased by retailer

Top July findings

Top August findings

Top September findings

Online Growth To Add Nearly £100m To Market In 2014

Pace of growth slows but is still rapid

Value segment still lags behind midmarket and premium sectors

Childrenswear online does not appeal as much as womenswear and menswear

ABC1s dominate socioeconomic profile of online childrenswear shoppers

Women and 25-44s are the main purchasers

Drivers of Spend

Price still important in buying online

Online sales channels

Nearly half spend under 30 minutes browsing before buying



Childrenswear market size and forecast methodology

Childrenswear retailer market share methodology

Clothing sales density methodology

Childrenswear spend per head methodology


List of Tables

Table 1: Childrenswear market definition, 2015

Table 2: Summary of clothing sectors, 2015e

Table 3: Childrenswear market value (£m) and growth drivers (%), 2005-15e

Table 4: Childrenswear sales breakdown and trends in context of clothing (£m), 2005-15e

Table 5: Girlswear expenditure, inflation, volume and value and share of sector, 2015e-20e

Table 6: Boyswear expenditure, inflation, volume and value and share of sector, 2015e-20e

Table 7: Infantswear expenditure, inflation, volume and value and share of sector, 2015e-20e

Table 8: Childrenswear expenditure (£m) and growth (%), quarterly, 2013-17e

Table 9: Childrenswear channels of distribution expenditure (£m) and share (%), 2014, 2015e and 2020e

Table 10: Specialist and clothing specialist childrenswear market shares (%), 2010-15e

Table 11: Non-specialist childrenswear market shares (%), 2010-15e

Table 12: Childrenswear retailers' key UK operating statistics, 2014/15e and 2015/16e

Table 13: Purchased items at the leading school uniform retailers (%), 2015

List of Figures

Figure 1: Sector shares of the clothing market (%), 2010 and 2015e

Figure 2: Childrenswear expenditure (£bn) and year-on-year change (%), 2005-15e

Figure 3: Childrenswear inflation/deflation, volume and value growth (%), 2005-15e

Figure 4: Childrenswear positioning map, 2014

Figure 5: Mother care Value Essentials range, July 2014

Figure 6: River Island childrenswear edit, July 2014

Figure 7: Childrenswear expenditure breakdown (%), 2009 and 2014e

Figure 8: Tesco TV childrenswear advert emphasizing added value features, 2014

Figure 9: Childrenswear spend per head (£), 2010-15e

Figure 10: Spend per head in childrenswear, girlswear, boyswear and infantswear (£), 2005 and 2015e

Figure 11: Childrenswear expenditure (£bn) and year-on-year change (%), 2010-20e

Figure 12: Childrenswear sources of growth (%), 2010-20e

Figure 13: Childrenswear expenditure growth (%), 2015e-20e

Figure 14: Childrenswear expenditure breakdown (%), 2009, 2014e and 2019e

Figure 15: Girlswear expenditure (£m) and year-on-year change (%), 2010-20e

Figure 16: Girlswear sources of growth (%), 2010-20e

Figure 17: Girlswear expenditure growth (%), 2015e-20e

Figure 18: Boyswear expenditure (£m) and year-on-year change (%), 2010-20e

Figure 19: Boyswear sources of growth (%), 2010-20e

Figure 20: Boyswear expenditure growth (%), 2015e-20e

Figure 21: Infantswear expenditure (£m) and year-on-year change (%), 2010-20e

Figure 22: Infantswear sources of growth (%), 2010-20e

Figure 23: Infantswear expenditure growth (%), 2015e-20e

Figure 24: Births in Great Britain, numbers and year-on-year change (%), 2003-13

Figure 25: Childrenswear spend per head (£), 2015e-20e

Figure 26: Spend per head on total childrenswear, girlswear, boyswear, infantswear (£), 2015e and 2020e

Figure 27: Childrenswear sources of growth (%), quarterly, 2013-17e

Figure 28: Childrenswear versus clothing & footwear year-on-year change (%), quarterly, 2013-17e

Figure 29: Childrenswear channel shares (%), 2014, 2015e and 2020e

Figure 30: Childrenswear channel expenditure growth (%), 2020e on 2015e

Figure 31: Change in childrenswear channel share (percentage point), 2015-20e

Figure 32: Online and offline shares of childrenswear (%), 2014, 2015e and 2020e

Figure 33: Childrenswear top 15 – childrenswear market shares (%), 2010 and 2015e

Figure 34: Childrenswear top 15 – childrenswear winners and losers (percentage points), 2015e on 2014

Figure 35: Childrenswear retailers' UK space growth versus sales growth (%), 2015/16e

Figure 36: Clothing sales densities (£/sq ft), 2014/15 and 2015/16e

Figure 37: Change in numbers of children by age group (%), 2015-20

Figure 38: Positioning map of retailers targeting teens, 2015

Figure 39: Current teen influencers' sense of style is more aligned with adult fashion, 2015

Figure 40: Topshop dresses available in a size 4, December 2015

Figure 41: River Island Girls range, December 2015

Figure 42: Babaluno's nautical inspired collection at Tesco, 2015

Figure 43: Mother care's baby advice forum, 2015

Figure 44: Zara's trendy displays with outfit suggestions and stylised photo shoots, 2015

Figure 45: John Lewis's Christmas babywear range, 2015

Figure 46: M&S boys school shirts, 2015

Figure 47: Profile of school uniform shoppers by gender and age group (%), 2015

Figure 48: School uniform shoppers who bought uniform for a particular age group (%), 2015

Figure 49: Shopper spend on school uniform (%), 2015

Figure 50: Online share of school uniform expenditure (%), 2015

Figure 51: Frequency of shopping trips for school uniform purchases (%), 2015

Figure 52: Importance of drivers when choosing where to purchase school uniform (%), 2015

Figure 53: Important technical attributes in school uniform (%), 2015

Figure 54: Most shopped school uniform retailers (%), 2015

Figure 55: Top 10 most shopped school uniform retailers by gender (%), 2015

Figure 56: Top five most shopped school uniform retailers by age group (%), 2015

Figure 57: Purchased school uniform items (%), 2015

Figure 58: School uniform items purchased at Asda (%), 2015

Figure 59: School uniform items purchased at Bhs (%), 2015

Figure 60: School uniform items purchased at Clarks (%), 2015

Figure 61: School uniform items purchased at M&S (%), 2015

Figure 62: School uniform items purchased at Matalan (%), 2015

Figure 63: School uniform items purchased at Next (%), 2015

Figure 64: School uniform items purchased at Primark (%), 2015

Figure 65: School uniform items purchased at Sainsbury's (%), 2015

Figure 66: School uniform items purchased at Tesco (%), 2015

Figure 67: Online childrenswear expenditure (£m) and year-on-year growth (%), 2010-15e

Figure 68: Socioeconomic profile of online childrenswear shoppers (%), 2014

Figure 69: Penetration of online clothing shoppers for childrenswear by gender, age and socioeconomic group (%), 2014

Figure 70: Age profile of online childrenswear shoppers (%), 2014

Figure 71: Main drivers of childrenswear online spend (%), 2014

Figure 72: Delivery methods used by online childrenswear buyers (%), 2014

Figure 73: Browsing time before purchasing childrenswear online (%), 2014

Figure 74: Devices used when buying childrenswear online (%), 2014

Figure 75: Online childrenswear expenditure (£m) and year-on-year growth (%), 2015-20e


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