New findings from Verdict Research has shown that premium and luxury retailers are helping to significantly drive the growth of the £14.7 billion department store sector in the UK.
According to the firm, the top three operators in the sector - Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges - have collectively outpaced the overall department store market by a significant margin for the past six years and have been instrumental in pushing on its growth in 2007.
Marks & Spencer and John Lewis make up the remainder of the top five. John Lewis, which leads the pack of the traditional department stpre operators, has recently undertaken numerous store refurbishments, plus improved product ranges and the introduction of more contemporary brands.
This has helped it to grow its market share from 16.8 per cent in 2002 to 19.1 per cent in 2007, widening the gap with Debenhams and closing in on M&S.
The likes of M&S, John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser all have extensive store opening plans for 2008. Verdict is also confident that consumers will continue spending with the premium operators.
"As money becomes tighter, consumers are more selective about where they spend and are more in need of a rewarding and indulgent shopping experience to lighten their mood," said Maureen Hinton, lead retail analyst at Verdict.