High Streets Initiative · 22 May 2019

More British men are shopping on the high street, crediting improved retail experience

More than a third of men believe the male shopping experience has improved over the last decade. This coincides with figures that show the number of men spending ‘high street’ prices has increased in the last five years. Could this prompt a mass revival of the waning UK high street?

Last year, the menswear sector grew by 22% while its female counterpart only saw sales rise by 8%.

Better clothing designs for men, more styling options and an improved shopping experience are all helping to drive men’s fashion sales, according to new research from the Fashion Retail Academy.

The number of men spending up to £50 a month has grown in the last five years too.

While the frequency with which men buy clothes both online and in-store has stayed relatively flat over the past five years, an increasing number of men say they enjoy the experience of shopping much more in that time – and are therefore likely to spend more.

In fact, the biggest sea change in attitudes to men’s clothing is happening on the high street itself. One in five men say that shops are making more of a concerted effort to appeal to them than five years ago.

34.6% say that major retailers have made efforts to improve the in-store experience specifically for men.

A further quarter believe that menswear is now better designed, while three in 10 say that there are simply more options for men now.

These changes to the shopping experience mean that men feel more comfortable in high street stores than they did five years ago. 17.1% of the respondents in the Fashion Retail Academy survey say they are now much happier to shop alone without a friend or partner, or are more likely to go in-store than buy online now.

An additional one in 10 (10.2%) men say they now buy their own clothes whereas five years ago, their partner or friend would do it for them.

“For a number of years, the male customer has been ignored by a large number of retailers, choosing to concentrate on the very visible female demographic, believing that males were simply not interested in either ‘shopping’ or an enhanced in-store experience,” explains Anthony McGrath, H.E. Fashion Lecturer at the Fashion Retail Academy.

“However, this notion has well and truly been cast aside as the male consumer’s buying habits and demands have evolved – which is playing out in the massive growth in menswear sales, particularly in the last year.”

“There are a number of contributing factors to the success of this segment – men are increasingly willing to ‘push the envelope’ in their clothing choices, stepping out of what once was considered their comfort zones. This is being driven by retailers who are making a concerted effort to get under the skin and truly understand what their male customers want, while at the same time ensuring that the shopping experience is less intimidating.”

“As a result, male customers will no longer just put up with being the poor relative of their female counterparts,” he adds.

“Men are after their own retail emporiums which cater more directly to their needs and wants. Plus, the ideal of a significant female purchasing clothing for a man is definitely an antiquated concept and has rightfully been banished to the realms of gender stereotypes.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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