It may be the smallest in value, but the premium segment of the UK clothing market is set to outstrip the value sector in 2007 after another year of strong growth.
According to Verdict Research, the premium sector's year-on-year growth is 13.9 per cent, while the value category is on 8.9 per cent.
Those retailers pitched at the premium end of the clothing market - from the top end of the High Street, such as Hobbs and Reiss, through to luxury brands like Burberry - have grown nearly four times faster in 2007 than the overall clothing market.
Their combined market share this year will be 18.5 per cent, an increase of 1.6 percentage points. According to Verdict Research, shoppers will spend an extra £785 million through premium retailers in 2007, surpassing the £697 million being spent through value retailers, while the middle market is losing share.
"Now that price and value are no longer an issue, we believe consumers are looking for exclusivity, and brands with a strong identity that set them apart from the competitors," explained Maureen Hinton, lead analyst at Verdict.
"When consumers have less to spend they are more selective in what they do buy - relying on them to become solely price driven is too simplistic a response to changing economics. Retailers at every level of the market will have to provide shoppers with a very good reason for taking a share of their clothing expenditure in 2008," she continued.