Womenswear in Western Europe is still dominated by fast fashion, which continues to create intense price competition for retailers. This competition for lower prices and on-trend collections is further intensified by the growth of internet retailing and the growing presence of pure online players in an already very saturated market. Brands will need to differentiate themselves both in terms of their values and products, and build strong and seamless digital touch-points to attract consumers.
Fast fashion continued to drive womenswear in Western Europe in 2018, as Zara and H&M maintained their undisputed leading positions and as Primark secured its position as the third largest womenswear brand in the region. Despite signs that consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of fast fashion, and regardless of their claims to be willing to pay more for sustainable fashion, most consumers still shop around for on-trend, lower priced clothing.
Sales of outerwear were negatively impacted by the prolonged period of higher than normal temperatures across Western Europe in the summer of 2018. For this reason, sales of outerwear have slowed over the past two years, but swimwear continues to see positive value growth, all the more since the number of individuals who travel internationally between one and three times a year increased by 10% in 2018, according to the Euromonitor International Lifestyles Survey 2019. As weather and travel patterns change, retailers will need to be more nimble and adaptable.
Sales of women’s sportswear grew by 4% in 2018, and continued to grow faster than the wider womenswear category, which saw a decline of 1% over the year. Sales of leggings across the region were particularly high in 2018. This is because of the growing interest in health and wellness, and the movement of the everyday wardrobe towards comfort and adaptability, facilitating active and fast-paced lifestyles suited to a variety of work and leisure-focused environments.
Internet retailing continues to grow at a faster rate than other channels in the region, and accounted for 17% of womenswear sales in 2018, up by three percentage points from 2017. In particular, the use of mobile devices is expected to drive online purchases in the coming years, as consumers seek speed and convenience.
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