Childrenswear sales in Western Europe have declined for most years throughout the early 21st century as Western Europe has been marked by two major economic downturns in quick succession. In 2015 and 2016, childrenswear returned to positive value growth but continues to be undermined by unfavourable demographic developments and declining unit prices; the latter due to tough retail competition between private label, fast fashion and internet retailing.
Childrenswear, like the wider apparel market in Western Europe, has been defined by two major economic downturns in 2008 and 2011, with the effects of the latter still lingering in multiple major countries in the region. Value growth has been negative since 2007 and only returned to positive dynamics in 2015.
Coupled with price consciousness, parents generally refrain from excess spending on childrenswear when clothes are typically outgrown before they are worn out. Consequently, private label, generally low priced, reigns supreme in childrenswear with 12% of value sales, compared to 8% for apparel.
In addition to private label, fast fashion led by H&M, Zara and Primark have also succeeded among price-conscious Western European parents. Primark, the lowest priced of the three have also seen the quickest growth posting a 12% CAGR over 2011-2016 as it has expanded beyond the UK.
The two economic downturns Western Europe experienced early in the 21st century had a more profound effect on childrenswear than declining expenditure. From 2008 to 2016, birth rates are down 9% as adults forgo or put off having children during times of economic uncertainty.
Digital innovation has done more than propel internet retailing to become the quickest growing channel in apparel, but have also rejuvenated secondhand markets in Western Europe. Digital innovation has made it easier for parents to connect and sell used children’s apparel undermining value growth.
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