Dress-down trend is set to hit menswear prices

The trend for casualwear combined with pressure from value retailers is threatening to hit the£8.2 billion menswear market over the next five years, forcing prices down and squeezing margins.

Although the market will grow to£9.3 billion in 2008, researcher Verdict forecasts that casualwear will outperform other menswear sectors, accounting for 77 per cent of growth.

Verdict analyst Maureen Hinton believes this will impact sales of suits and formal shirts. Formalwear's market share will fall to 28.5 per cent in 2008, from 30.1 per cent last year.

'Casualwear is lower price, and the major domain of the price-driven value retailers. It will therefore have a dampening effect on overall growth, ensuring menswear continues to underperform womenswear and total retail growth,' noted Hinton in Verdict on Menswear Retailers 2004.

The dressing-down trend is driven by the fact that the fastest-growing male age groups are likely to be students and the retired, who do not need formal office wear.

According to the report, TK Maxx boosted its market share by 0.5 per cent, and George gained 0.3 per cent. The growth was attributed to value retailers encouraging men to keep up with fashion via affordable offers.

Retailers that lost market share included Moss Bros, down 0.1 per cent, and Arcadia, down 0.2 per cent.

Moss Bros chief executive Philip Mountford said the market share dip at his business was because of the closure of 18 stores, rather than lack of demand. 'Our suit sales were up last year, and, in the first 26 weeks of this year, suit sales are up 15 per cent,' he said.

Arcadia declined to comment on the report.