Kidswear has been the most resilient clothing sector in the recession, according to market research house Verdict.

The report also said that the closure of Woolworths late last year released £250m of market share for competitors. The largest growth in market share has been seen by the supermarkets and value retailers such as Asda, Tesco and Primark

Verdict estimated that the kidswear market will be worth £4.63bn in 2009, down 0.1% on 2008, whereas the clothing market as a whole is estimated to drop 0.6% in 2009. The comparative strength of kidswear has been attributed to a mini-baby boom during the recession as well as the tendency for people to delay having children and so accumulate more disposable income to spend on them than younger parents used to.

Since the demise of Woolworths, which had 5.4% market share in 2008, other retailers have extended their grip on the market, with Primark’s market share up 0.6% to command a 7.1% share of the market, Tesco’s up 0.5% to 7.8%, Asda’s up 0.4% to 9.3% and Matalan’s up 0.3% to a 3.4% slice of the market.

Next retains the top spot in terms of market share with 9.8% in 2009 a 0.1% increase.

Verdict lead analyst Maureen Hinton said: “The disruption to Woolworths’ sales when it collapsed provided a big opportunity for competitors, even though Shop Direct now has the benefit of the brand.”

Though the supermarkets have upped their share of the kidswear market by £68m, clothing specialists have collectively made the biggest gain, taking an extra 2.7% share to account for over half of all sales with 51.2% total market share.

Hinton added: “Clothing retailers are looking for new opportunities to grow their sales and childrenswear is a natural extension of adult ranges to attract incremental sales. The likes of H&M and Zara have been giving their childrenswear ranges a higher profile and parents are buying more online, not just because of its convenience, but also the access it gives to lesser known, more exclusive, ranges.”