As Fat Face reveals it’s making a push into the activewear market, Retail Week looks at how the retailers are looking to cash in on the burgeoning sector.

Why are we talking about this now?

Fashion retailer Fat Face revealed this week that it’s been trialling activewear in 15 stores since spring this year and plans to extend it across further shops next year.

Fat Face chief executive Anthony Thompson said it had launched the new category – and lingerie - on the back of customer demand. “We’ve listened to our customers and given them more choices of what they want. After Christmas, they wanted gym gear,” he said.

Who are the biggest players in the market?

The market leaders of the UK sportswear market are Sports Direct and JD Sports with forecast shares of 21.7% and 13.7% in 2014 respectively, according to Verdict. Outside of the traditional retailers, we’re seeing more players try to grab a share of the market. US sportwear specialist Lululemon made its UK debut earlier this year with a store in Covent Garden while the nearest UK equivalent Sweaty Betty continues to widen its store portfolio. High street chains such as H&M and Primark have also expanded their sportswear ranges in recent years.

How big is the activewear market?

The UK sportswear market was worth £5.3bn in 2013, and is expected to reach £6.3bn by 2018, according to Euromonitor. The sector’s growth is even outperforming the total UK clothing and footwear market, which increased by 3.8% last year against 6.1% growth in sportswear, as retailers such as Next, Gap, H&M and Primark continue to create new activewear ranges.

Why are clothing retailers launching into activewear?

Retailers are recognising that the activewear market is swelling. Consumers aren’t just wearing activewear to work out – they’re wearing gym-like clothes when they’re socialising with friends, shopping or lounging around at home. This presents a huge opportunity for retailers. Plus Brits’ appetite for sports - as well as the rising popualirty of all manor of classes, including Zuu, where fitness fantatics strike wild animal poses - such shows no sign of abating. And it’s a fashionable area, exemplified by Currys and PC World’s top 10 Christmas wishlist, which featured four wearable tech gadgets which all track fitness levels, such as the Samsung Gear Fit.

“One of the things driving this growth is greater interest in sport, health and fitness,” says Euromonitor senior analyst for apparel and footwear Ashma Kunde. “The trend now is to work out, especially for women, and the millennials are driving that. They’re spending more on themselves and taking care of themselves more.”