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Kidswear set to continue its boom

Apr 11 2017 17:53

Cape Town - One clothing trend which seems to be following a steep upward growth curve, is the kidswear category.

Technavio, an international market research company, forecasts the sector’s growth to be more than 6% by 2020. This percentage far surpasses the anticipated growth in the women and men’s wear sectors for the same period.
This boom appears to be in stark contrast with the overall clothing sector’s performance, especially locally. South African consumers are cash-strapped. This was evidenced by the retail industry’s results from the last fiscal year, with most local retailers reporting tiny or or even negative like-for-like growth margins.

Charl Cronje, managing director of Ackermans - which reported positive like-for-like numbers over the past five years - attributes the slow-down to macro-environmental factors.

“The drop in the rand’s value, climate change, political uncertainty and the rising cost of inflation has impacted consumers across the board,” said Cronje.

This does not mean they’re not spending.

“Gone are the days of children wearing ‘hand-me-downs’ or ill-fitting clothing. Even in a tough economy, our own research reveals that South Africans consistently put their children first, wanting them to look and feel their best,” he added.

This does come at a cost, which is where retailers like Ackermans are filling the gap.

“There is a greater focus on value, explains Cronje. “Many of our customers are looking for added value at a good price – for example, a two-pack of good quality school shirts for a few rand more than that of a single. There is an emphasis on getting more for less.”

Boosted by the infiltration of fashion into children’s clothing, this category is consistently outperforming other lines.

“The advent of technology and rise of social media have also been huge contributors to this growth, specifically in the pre-teen category,” admits Cronje.

And thanks to social platforms like Instagram and technology such as smartphones, satellite TV and tablets, children now have immediate access to international trends.

“This has led to an increasingly discerning and style conscious young customer, with the ‘pester power’ to sway their parents’ purchasing decisions,” he explained.

To take advantage of the category growth, Cronje believes that retailers need to be customer-centric and adaptable.

“If a line of kids’ jackets sold well last year, don’t assume a similar style will do well this year. Don’t repeat a formula simply because it was successful in the past. The macro environment is in a constant state of flux and children’s desires – and the circumstances of their parents or guardians – are dynamic. Make sure your business is attuned to this," he said.

“It is integral to pay attention to and constantly re-assess customers’ needs, innovate and adapt accordingly, and then deliver well – and consistently – on your brand proposition.”

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retail  |  youth  |  clothing industry


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