Products covered in this report

The market size for clothing comprises men’s, women’s and children’s clothes through all retail outlets. It includes outerwear, underwear and fashion accessories, but excludes footwear and jewellery.

This report includes two streams of data relating to the clothing market: consumer spending and retail sales by clothing specialists.

Country and company coverage

We cover the top five economies in detail in the individual country chapters of this report Clothing Retailing – Europe, and in the Executive Summary – Market section we also provide data on up to 33 European economies. More details of retailing in these smaller markets, plus Russia and Turkey, can be found in Mintel’s European Retail Handbook – September 2019. Single country reports on clothing retailing are also available for the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Clothing specialists are the focus of our report and they are still the dominant channel in the market. Nevertheless, that scenario is slowly changing. The specialists are losing share in the market, sometimes to non-specialists (such as the supermarkets in the UK) and sometimes to online retailers. It is our normal practice to follow the classifications used by the national statistics offices, but in clothing that needs to be widened. Online retailers, such as ASOS or Zalando, are treated as “non-store retailers” in the national statistics, whereas we feel that they are actually clothing specialists and the distinction between them and store-based retailers is to a considerable extent artificial. In this report we have tried, where possible, to reflect the actual competitive situation.

Consumer research coverage

Mintel commissioned consumer research in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain and in each country we asked 2,000 internet users aged 16+ about:

  • Participation in online and in-store shopping for clothing in the last 12 months

  • The retailers used for clothing shopping in the last 12 months

  • Responses to a series of attitudinal statements relating to shopping for clothing.

Additionally, the UK report includes further consumer research, which asked shoppers about how often they buy clothes and what attributes are most important to them in choosing a clothing retailer.

Responses to these surveys reflect the opinion of internet users. While internet usage is high in the UK, France and Germany, it is less so in Spain and Italy. Eurostat records the following household penetration levels for broadband internet in 2018: UK 95%, Germany 92%, France 81%, Spain 86% and Italy 83%, all, apart from Germany, seeing a small increase on 2017.

Where internet usage is lower, the online population is less representative of the general population. Although Spain and Italy are catching up, this still means that, for example, the proportion of respondents buying online may not so clearly reflect the proportion buying online among the total population.

Note that for some survey results we provide netted totals of answers to two or more options. A netted total will often equal less than the sum of the parts being netted, due to overlaps in respondents selecting different options.


Retail sector definitions

In our data on sector sales and forecasts and in our coverage of leading retailers within each market, this report concentrates on clothing specialists, as defined below and used by national statistics offices across Europe. Examples of specialists are Grupo Inditex, H&M and Next.

The definition of clothing specialists in European countries is that used for the NACE category 47.71: Retail sale of clothing in specialised stores, including fur and accessories such as ties, braces, gloves etc.

Non-specialist retailers include:

  • Department/variety stores

  • Discount stores

  • Food retailers

  • Sports goods specialists

  • Market stalls and bazaars

  • Second-hand/charity shops

  • Catalogue operators

  • Online-only operators.

In the UK and Spain we include M&S and Dunnes Stores within our definition of clothing specialists; despite both offering a wide array of other products including food and homewares, the scale of their clothing operations in each country is such that we have felt it necessary to include both as clothing specialists. We think that both are classified as clothing specialists in the national statistical data. El Corte Inglés (ECI) in Spain is classified as a department store, but it is also the largest single clothing retailer fascia (bigger than any of the Inditex brands) and for that reason it would seem misleading not to include it in the leading specialists tables.

Consumer spending definitions

We use the following COICOP (Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose) categories for consumer spending data.

3.1 Clothing

3.11 Clothing materials

3.12 Garments

3.13 Other articles of clothing and clothing accessories

3.14 Cleaning, repair and hire of clothing

Footwear spending is also provided for most countries, but this is not the focus of this report.

Financial definitions

All retailers’ sales figures are quoted excluding VAT (sales tax), unless specifically stated otherwise.

In our European reports, all retail sector sales are quoted excluding VAT, unless specifically stated otherwise. In our UK report, retail sales data includes VAT.

Consumer spending data is quoted including VAT, unless specifically stated otherwise.

Operating profit is trading profit after normal operating costs and depreciation, but before interest, goodwill amortisation and exceptional items.

Pre-tax profit is calculated after all costs, including exceptional items, interest, and non-cash charges such as amortisation, but before tax.

Note that there can be a number of reasons why tables do not sum exactly:

  • Rounding errors

  • Currency conversions if original data for different subsidiaries was in different currencies (companies often provide information in local currencies)

  • VAT (sales tax) – if original data was provided gross (including sales tax), we have extracted VAT at the relevant rates for countries concerned and at the estimated appropriate rates depending on product categories sold

  • Information on all subsidiaries is not always available. As a result in some cases we have an entry for the parent company, and subsidiary information on only one part of the business.


Conversion from local currencies to euros is carried out at the average rate ruling during the year.

Rates against the Euro for Eurozone countries have now been fixed since 1999 and all accounts in Eurozone countries are now published in euros.

Sales tax rates

All European countries levy sales tax using the value added method.

Figure 1: VAT rates around Europe, 2014-19
01-Jan-14 01-Jan-15 01-Jan-16 01-Jan-17 01-Jan-18 01-Jan-19
% % % % % %
Austria 20 20 20 20 20 20
Belgium 21 21 21 21 21 21
Czechia 21 21 21 21 21 21
Denmark 25 25 25 25 25 25
Finland 24 24 24 24 24 24
France 20 20 20 20 20 20
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CAGR Compound Annual Growth Rate
COICOP Classification of Individual Consumption According to Purpose
CPI Consumer Prices Index
DACH Germany, Austria, Switzerland region
e Mintel Estimate
f Mintel Forecast
GDP Gross Domestic Product
jv Joint Venture
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