Shoppers are finding it increasingly hard to keep up with the latest fashion trends because of increases in clothing prices.

Figures from Kantar Worldpanel show that sales growth in the fashion sector was just 1% over the past 12 weeks. The data also shows that average prices rose 6% year-on-year over the same period and sales volumes have dipped.

“The number of fashion items sold across the whole sector has not increased year-on-year since January 2009, the same month that the UK entered recession,” said Kantar Worldpanel insight director Ian Mitchell .

“The economic downturn has certainly affected shoppers’ behaviour – fashion items are more expensive than they used to be so people can no longer afford to go on big shopping sprees and are buying less.”

According to the research independent fashion retailers were particularly hard hit over the 12 weeks. They suffered a 0.6% drop in market share and now account for 3.6%.

“The online fashion market continues to grow at a healthy 8% but this is significantly slower than the 26% we saw in the same period last year.  2011 growth is driven by the high-profile launches of several high street brands online; however it’s likely that online growth will stall even further once they are fully established,” added Mitchell.