Women's wear offers garden centre opportunity

The 50+ women's clothing market brings opportunities for retailers, a new report has found.

The UK womenswear market, which is set to reach £23.8bn in 2016, is ripe with opportunities for retailers hoping to target an under-served generation of women over 50, according to retail research and analysis firm Verdict Retail.

According to the company’s latest report, 2016 has served up some of the toughest trading conditions for womenswear retailers since the 2008 recession, and with inflationary pressure building, volume growth will not reach pre-recessionary levels between 2016 and 2021. However, despite the challenging period ahead, there remain opportunities in the market, with the 50+ segment proving both lucrative and relatively unexploited.

Verdict Retail senior analyst Kate Ormrod said: "The 50+ womenswear shopper is notoriously neglected, with few players actively catering to mature consumers, and a lack of choice limiting spend. Those that do target this segment focus on occasionwear, with casualwear largely overlooked.

"Targeting this age group does not necessarily require a huge shift in proposition, nor does it mean a new sub-brand is essential for retailers, as 50+ shoppers want the same style and design as younger females. Retailers must emphasize how their proposition is relevant by marketing ranges to an older demographic, and incorporating more mature and stylish models in campaigns. Better understanding of these shoppers’ lifestyles and hobbies will also help to ensure ranges and branding are age-appropriate and appealing."

Verdict Retail’s survey found that womenswear shoppers aged 55+ rated the importance of quality as 8.9 out of 10 in regards to retailer selection.

Ormrod added: "Quality as a driver is particularly important to mature shoppers. Showcasing quality credentials via targeted editorial content, through customer service and most importantly through product design and fit will help to justify price points among mature consumers – especially at a time when shoppers’ discretionary spending will be restricted, making purchasing decisions more considered."

Over-50s women's wear concessions are common in garden centres, with Bonmarche, Dash, Peacocks, Klass, Cotton Traders and Edinburgh Woollen Mill serving the market.

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