Supermarkets became market leaders by value in childrenswear for the first time last year.

Grocers scooped up 29% of childrenswear sales in 2009 as almost seven in 10 consumers bought such products along with the weekly shop, according to a study by market analyst Mintel.

Last year, traditional retailers of the category such as clothing multiples and department stores accounted for 26.5% and 7% of the market respectively, Mintel’s Childrenswear UK 2010 report showed. They had only retained market share by focusing on the premium end of the market.

Childrenswear sales at supermarkets doubled between 2004 and 2009 and the trend was evidence of more than consumers’ determination to seek out value.

Mintel senior fashion analyst Michelle Strutton said: “Although the impact of the economic slowdown since 2007 has raised the profile of discounters and supermarkets, it as been the wider investment by such stores in improving the quality and fashion elements of their clothing that has enabled them to take on the existing players in the market so successfully.”

Total childrenswear sales in 2009 were £5bn but modest growth means the figure is only likely to rise by 3% to £5.2bn by 2014.