Value sales of clothing rose 8% in the 24 weeks to 16 August while volume fell 1%, according to the latest available figures from TNS. The figures demonstrated that shoppers were turning away from cheap impulse purchases and spending more carefully on more expensive items, analysts claimed.
"Supermarkets have seen success in higher-priced items such as knitwear, dresses and formalwear, which pushes the average price up," said Elaine Giles, client manager at TNS Worldpanel Fashion. Inflation had also contributed, she added, with rock- bottom fashion prices easing upwards this year.
The figures suggested that in the recession people were spending more on quality items that would last, said retail analyst at Pali International Nick Bubb. "Supermarkets are getting better at selling more expensive clothing. Maybe people are buying an expensive coat rather than a couple of T-shirts."
The fact that the overall clothing market had declined in value during the same period pointed to supermarkets winning market share, he added.
His theory was supported by Mintel, whose fashion analyst Katrin Magnussen agreed that consumers were buying fewer, but more expensive, items. "People are choosing to go for more quality items instead of going for something in fashion for this season," she said.
However, rising distribution costs and the weak pound had also pushed up import costs, she added.