Full time employees in the UK have been found to be shoring up the high-end apparel market. It was these consumers, representing 39% of all clothing and footwear shoppers, who spent 10% more on clothing and footwear in the 24 weeks ending 18th September 2005 compared with the same period in 2004.
This brings the full-time employed's total spend in the latest half year to 5.1 billion, according to the latest clothing and footwear sales figures from TNS FashionTrak, a division of market information provider TNS.
In contrast, part-time workers, and non-workers have cut their spend on clothing and footwear by 5% over the same period. Whilst buying slightly more items (up 1%) they are taking advantage of low prices from the value clothing sector (the discounters and supermarkets) to help reduce their overall expenditure. Value clothing retailers have capitalised on this trend by enabling people with less income to update their wardrobes without eating into their limited budgets; these tactics have helped the value clothing sector grow by 5% in the past six months.
TNS FashionTrak's latest figures showed that full-time workers now spend only 14% of their clothing budget in the value sector, compared to part-time and non-workers who spend a fifth of their budget (20%) and buy nearly half of all their items (47%) in discounters and supermarkets.
Students in full-time education have bought 3% more clothing and footwear in the past six months compared with a year ago, but are actually spending 4% less as they too buy at cheaper prices. In particular, they are buying discounted items from the department stores, as well as low-priced products from the value sector.
TNS FashionTrak also suggests that retired people are feeling more flush, spending 10% more this year and increasingly buying from department stores and general stores as well as discounters and supermarkets.
Fiona Bell, director for TNS FashionTrak, commented: "Retailers must acknowledge this polarisation in spending and tailor their product ranges accordingly if they are to continue to attract a wide range of customers."