Every year, shoppers spend less on clothing and shoes. The numerous discounts and sharp price competition in the fashion retail industry have resulted in ever lower European clothing expenses since 2006.
Increased import price, decreased sales price
Belgian consumers have spent less on clothing and shoes for the past five years: an average family spending went down from 1,756 euro in 2012 to only 1,472 in 2016 according to the FPS Economy. Starting in 2006, a similar trend can be witnessed in 21 of 28 EU countries according to Eurostat, Gazet van Antwerpen writes. The numbers do not indicate that people buy fewer items, but rather that they are buying more cheaply, according to Belgian independent entrepreneurs organization NSZ.
Dutch prices have also dropped: a piece of clothing worth 107 euro in 2002, was only worth 98 euro in 2015, according to calculations made by the CBS (Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics). The same bureau said that the average import price for clothing has in fact grown since 2008: resources became more expensive, particularly cotton, and strict environmental and wage demands have pushed import prices up, while consumer prices have actually gone down. This puts increased pressure on margins, mainly because of the highly successful price breakers like H&M and Primark and the numerous discounts.
"Who pays full price nowadays?”
“You can find a discount pretty much everywhere nowadays. If there isn’t one in stores, there will be one online. Who pays full price for a new sweater or a pair of shoes nowadays? You would have to be crazy”, NSZ chairperson Christine Mattheeuws explains the current shopper mentality. The ever-present discounts also lower the traditional sales periods’ popularity. In Belgium, retailers are largely pessimistic about the ongoing sales period. “After a rather weak holiday season, the first weekend of sales generated a 3 % turnover increase compared to last year. That is a positive thing, but definitely will not suffice”, Mattheeuws concluded.