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UK Childrenswear market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Childrenswear market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

For the purposes of this report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

  • The market size for childrenswear incorporates all clothing for children aged 0-15 years, including schoolwear.
  • Baby and infantswear relates specifically to clothing for children up to the age of 4 and includes bibs, but excludes nappies and disposable nappies.

What you need to know

Mintel estimates that the market for childrenswear is set to grow by 4.5% in 2018, reaching £6.9 billion. The childrenswear market is particularly reliant on sales from supermarkets and clothing specialist retailers, rather than childrenswear specialists. Additionally, as the largest childrenswear specialists have struggled, we have seen an increase in the number of clothing retailers that have upped their focus on childrenswear, seeing this category as a good opportunity for growth.

While the birth rate is slowing, the growing tween and teen population presents opportunities, particularly as the older age ranges are likely to care about fashionability of clothing, are more into brands, and are heavily influenced by social media personalities, as seen from our consumer research.

Childrenswear shoppers are mostly concerned about price and quality but are also heavily swayed by convenience, which gives supermarkets the edge. There are also several trends that have been making waves in the childrenswear market, such as mini-me styling and gender-neutral options.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Chana Baram, a leading analyst in the Retail sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The childrenswear sector is faring well due partly to a growing population of children in the older age groups (10-14-years-old) and a growing interest in fashion-led clothing for children and teens. However, while clothing specialists and supermarkets are flourishing in the childrenswear space, specialist childrenswear retailers are struggling. The large specialist chains must offer more in order to compete and truly stand out. Chana Baram
Retail Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Childrenswear to grow 4.5% in 2018
              • Figure 1: Best- and worst-case forecast of UK value sales of childrenswear, 2013-23
            • Share of boyswear increasing
              • Figure 2: Segmentation of UK childrenswear market, based on current prices, 2013-18
            • Declining birth rates
              • Figure 3: Number of live births in Great Britain, 1960-2017
            • People waiting until they are older to start a family
              • Figure 4: Standardised mean age of mother in England and Wales, across all births, 1996-2016
            • Cost of living post-Brexit is a big concern
              • Figure 5: Economic outlook consumer tracker, July 2018
            • Companies and brands
              • Clothing retailers account for largest share of the market
                • Figure 6: UK sales of childrenswear, % share by outlet type, 2017
              • Asda dedicates largest amount of space to childrenswear
                • Figure 7: Men’s, women’s and childrenswear overview, October 2018
              • Advertising spend set to see large increase in 2018
                • Figure 8: Total above-the-line online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on childrenswear, 2014-18
              • The buyer
                • Supermarkets and clothing retailers most popular
                  • Figure 9: Retailers childrenswear was purchased from, August 2018
                • Price tops list of reasons to shop at chosen retailer
                  • Figure 10: Reasons for shopping at retailer where most money was spent, August 2018
                • Quality and offers are top reasons for choosing childrenswear retailer
                  • Figure 11: Reasons people would choose one childrenswear retailer over another, August 2018
                • Childrenswear buyers want to future-proof purchases
                  • Figure 12: Behaviour towards childrenswear market, August 2018
                • Time-saving important for childrenswear buyers
                  • Figure 13: Consumer attitudes towards childrenswear, August 2018
                • The young consumer
                  • Childrenswear purchased as and when needed
                    • Figure 14: How parents feel about childrenswear, August 2018
                  • Two thirds choose comfort as most important feature
                    • Figure 15: Most important aspects for children when choosing clothes, August 2018
                  • Primark tops list of retailers
                    • Figure 16: Where teens would choose to buy clothes from, August 2018
                  • Teens prefer to shop in adult section
                    • Figure 17: Teenagers behaviour towards clothing shopping, August 2018
                  • What we think
                  • Issues and Insights

                    • Rethinking the teen offering
                      • The facts
                        • The implications
                          • Specialists struggling while clothing retailers expand into childrenswear
                            • The facts
                              • The implications
                                • Opportunities for more sustainability in childrenswear
                                  • The facts
                                    • The implications
                                    • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                      • Childrenswear to grow by 4.5% in 2018
                                        • Share of boyswear increasing
                                          • Declining birth rates
                                            • People waiting until they are older to start a family
                                              • Cost of living post-Brexit is a big concern
                                                • Teens anxious about appearance
                                                • Market Size and Forecast

                                                  • Market to grow 4.5% in 2018
                                                    • Figure 18: Best- and worst-case forecast of UK value sales of childrenswear, 2013-23
                                                  • Childrenswear to grow 3.6% annually between 2018-23
                                                    • Figure 19: UK value sales of childrenswear, at current and 2018 prices, 2013-23
                                                  • Segmentation
                                                    • Share of boyswear gradually increases
                                                      • Figure 20: UK value sales of childrenswear, by segment, 2013-18
                                                      • Figure 21: Segmentation of UK childrenswear market, based on current prices, 2013-18
                                                    • Gender-neutral effect
                                                      • Growing spending on schoolwear
                                                        • Forecast methodology
                                                        • Market Drivers: Population

                                                          • Declining birth rates…
                                                            • Figure 22: Number of live births in Great Britain, 1960-2017
                                                          • …leading to decreasing number of young children
                                                            • Figure 23: Projected (2017 based projections) UK population at mid-years, by age of last birthday, in thousands, 2013-22
                                                            • Figure 24: Projected year-on-year percentage population change, based on 2016 projections, by age of last birthday, 2013-22
                                                          • Impact of Brexit on birth and population rates
                                                            • Figure 25: Proportion of live births by country of birth of mother, 2009-17
                                                          • People are having fewer children
                                                            • Figure 26: Total fertility rate (number of children per woman) across England and Wales, 2007-17
                                                            • Figure 27: Family size distribution of women in England and Wales born between 1945-71 assumed to have completed their childbearing, 2016
                                                          • People wait until they are older to start a family
                                                            • Figure 28: Standardised mean age of mother in England and Wales, across all births, 1996-2016
                                                        • Market Drivers: The Economy

                                                          • Brexit has impacted value of Sterling
                                                            • Figure 29: Sterling to US Dollar exchange rate chart, by month, Jan 2013-Aug 2018
                                                          • Price of childrenswear increasing at faster rate…
                                                            • Figure 30: CPIH percentage change over 12 month period, by market, Feb 2016-Aug 2018
                                                          • …and a general rise in interest rates led to a squeeze on incomes
                                                            • People most concerned about the cost of living post-Brexit
                                                              • Figure 31: Economic outlook consumer tracker, July 2018
                                                          • Market Drivers: Lifestyles

                                                            • Around 1 in 5 children are obese by the time they reach year 6
                                                              • Figure 32: Children's overweight and obesity prevalence, ages 2-15, 1996-2016
                                                            • Teens anxious about appearance
                                                              • Figure 33: Children and teens worried about their appearance, by gender and age, March 2017
                                                              • Figure 34: Ditch the Label social media campaign with Boohoo.com, 2017
                                                            • One in five teens use a shopping/retail app weekly
                                                              • Figure 35: Teen usage of shopping/retail apps, March 2017
                                                            • Fashion items most popular choice for children shopping online
                                                              • Figure 36: Items bought by children online, by age group, September 2017
                                                            • YouTube most popular channel
                                                              • Figure 37: Teens social media usage, March 2017
                                                            • Ethical concerns for Generation Z
                                                              • Figure 38: Leading environmental concerns for Generation Z, June 2018
                                                          • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                            • Clothing retailers account for the largest share of the market
                                                              • Asda dedicates largest amount of space to childrenswear
                                                                • Large specialists struggling
                                                                  • Parents ‘Twinning’ with children
                                                                    • Increased focus on diversity in advertising
                                                                    • Channels to Market

                                                                      • Clothing retailers continue to lead
                                                                        • Figure 39: UK sales of childrenswear, % share by outlet type, 2017
                                                                      • Supermarkets continue to do well
                                                                        • Value retailers
                                                                          • Specialists suffering
                                                                          • Space Allocation Summary

                                                                              • Allocation by men’s, women’s and childrenswear
                                                                                • Figure 40: Men’s, women’s and childrenswear overview, by fashion retailers, October 2018
                                                                                • Figure 41: Men’s, women’s and childrenswear overview, October 2018
                                                                              • Detailed category space allocation
                                                                                • Figure 42: Fashion retailers childrenswear space allocation, October 2018
                                                                                • Figure 43: Supermarkets, department stores and other retailers, October 2018
                                                                            • Retail Product Mix

                                                                                • Figure 44: Leading retailers, estimated sales, 2017
                                                                                • Figure 45: Leading clothing retailers: share of clothing sales, by product, 2017
                                                                                • Figure 46: Leading clothing retailers estimated share of the childrenswear market, 2017
                                                                            • Competitive Strategies

                                                                              • Specialists: winners and losers
                                                                                • Mothercare
                                                                                  • Mamas & Papas
                                                                                    • Figure 47: Mamas & Papas Clapham store, 2016
                                                                                  • Small specialist chains
                                                                                    • Figure 48: Newbi store in Westfield London, 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 49: Newbie sustainable event, 2018
                                                                                  • More clothing specialists offering childrenswear
                                                                                    • Joe Browns
                                                                                      • Arket
                                                                                        • Reserved
                                                                                          • Outfit Kids
                                                                                            • Gant
                                                                                              • River Island
                                                                                                • Figure 50: River Island Kids store in intu Braehead shopping centre in Glasgow, 2018
                                                                                              • Jack & Jones
                                                                                              • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                • ‘Twinning’ with your children
                                                                                                  • Figure 51: Gresham Blake matching outfits, 2018
                                                                                                • River Island Silver & Lux
                                                                                                  • Luxury childrenswear expansion
                                                                                                    • Balenciaga
                                                                                                      • Givenchy
                                                                                                        • Belstaff
                                                                                                          • Figure 52: Belstaff kidswear collection, 2017
                                                                                                        • Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter
                                                                                                          • Figure 53: Net-a-Porter exclusive Gucci childrenswear collection, 2018
                                                                                                        • Flannels
                                                                                                          • MyTheresa
                                                                                                            • Gender-neutral clothing
                                                                                                              • John Lewis removes gender labels
                                                                                                                • Figure 54: John Lewis gender-neutral range, 2017
                                                                                                              • River Island launches gender-neutral childrenswear range
                                                                                                                • Figure 55: River Island unisex children’s range, 2017
                                                                                                              • M&S ‘easy dressing’ range
                                                                                                                • Tie-ups
                                                                                                                  • Arket x Marion Deuchars
                                                                                                                    • Figure 56: Arket x Marion Deuchars collection, 2018
                                                                                                                  • Sarah Jessica Parker x Gap
                                                                                                                    • Beano collaborations
                                                                                                                      • Figure 57: Stella McCartney x Beano, 2018
                                                                                                                  • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                                                    • Advertising spend set to see large increase in 2018
                                                                                                                      • Figure 58: Total above-the-line online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on childrenswear, 2014-18
                                                                                                                    • M&S becomes top spender
                                                                                                                      • Figure 59: M&S ‘Life Isn’t Uniform’ campaign, 2018
                                                                                                                      • Figure 60: Total above-the line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on childrenswear, by top 20 advertisers, 2014-18
                                                                                                                    • Diversity in advertising
                                                                                                                      • River Island: labels are for clothes
                                                                                                                        • Figure 61: River Island’s ‘Be Incredible’ campaign, 2018
                                                                                                                      • Mothercare
                                                                                                                        • Figure 62: Little Bird Mothercare campaign, 2018
                                                                                                                      • Argos sees major increase in advertising activity
                                                                                                                        • Digital top media channel for childrenswear campaigns
                                                                                                                          • Figure 63: Total above-the-line online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on childrenswear, by media type, 2017-18 (Jan-Oct)
                                                                                                                          • Figure 64: Total above-the-line online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on childrenswear, top 20 advertisers, by media type in 2018 (Jan-Oct)
                                                                                                                        • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
                                                                                                                        • The Buyer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                          • Over a quarter of non-parents bought childrenswear
                                                                                                                            • Supermarkets and clothing retailers most popular
                                                                                                                              • Price tops list of reasons to shop at chosen retailer
                                                                                                                                • Quality is top factor to encourage purchases
                                                                                                                                  • Age-appropriate clothing a concern
                                                                                                                                  • Childrenswear Purchased

                                                                                                                                    • Over a quarter of non-parents bought childrenswear
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 65: People who bought childrenswear over 12 months, August 2018
                                                                                                                                    • More frequent purchasing done for younger age groups …
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 66: Age of child childrenswear was purchased for, August 2018
                                                                                                                                    • …predominantly due to heavier gifting
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 67: People who bought childrenswear, by age of child bought for, August 2018
                                                                                                                                  • Retailers used for Childrenswear

                                                                                                                                    • Supermarkets just as popular as clothing retailers
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 68: Retailers childrenswear was purchased from, August 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Primark is the most popular clothing retailer for childrenswear
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 69: Primark Disney collection, 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Shoppers for youngest age group least loyal
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 70: Repertoire of retailers shopped at for childrenswear, August 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Next is clothing retailer people spent most at
                                                                                                                                      • In-store purchases almost twice as frequent as online
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 71: Retailers where people spent the most on childrenswear cross-analysed with channels used, August 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Reasons Shopped

                                                                                                                                      • Price most important aspect for almost two thirds
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 72: Reasons for shopping at a retailer where most money was spent, August 2018
                                                                                                                                      • Supermarkets chosen for value for money and convenience
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 73: Waitrose Mini range, 2017
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 74: Retailer where consumers spent the most on childrenswear cross-analysed by reasons for use, August 2018
                                                                                                                                      • Department stores shine for quality, style and brands
                                                                                                                                        • Online chosen for price and variety, but quality and style are lacking
                                                                                                                                        • Factors to Encourage Store Visits

                                                                                                                                          • Quality and offers are top reasons for choosing childrenswear retailer
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 75: Reasons people would choose one childrenswear retailer over another, August 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Two fifths choose affordable basics as an important aspect for a retailer
                                                                                                                                              • Other factors are nice to have, but not seen as necessity
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 76: Marks & Spencer basic bodysuits made with a special kinder to skin fabric, 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Behaviour towards Childrenswear

                                                                                                                                              • Childrenswear buyers want to future-proof purchases
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 77: Behaviour towards childrenswear market, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 78: Newbie timeless collection, 2018
                                                                                                                                                • Mini-me styles continue to be popular
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 79: Lou Teasdale with daughter Lux for River Island x Silver&Lux, 2018
                                                                                                                                                • Childrenswear buyers want to take the moral high-ground
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 80: WWF and H&M childrenswear collaboration, 2018
                                                                                                                                                  • Gender-neutral clothing yet to reach critical mass
                                                                                                                                                  • Attitudes towards Childrenswear

                                                                                                                                                    • Time-saving important for childrenswear buyers
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 81: Consumer attitudes towards childrenswear, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                    • Online shopping helps to save time and stress
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 82: Attitudes towards online shopping – avoiding the stress of taking children into store, by age of child in household, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                    • Age-appropriate clothing a concern
                                                                                                                                                      • Jury is out on branded clothing
                                                                                                                                                      • The Young Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                        • Childrenswear purchased as and when needed
                                                                                                                                                          • Teens go shopping with friends
                                                                                                                                                            • Comfort is the most important feature in clothes
                                                                                                                                                              • Primark tops list of favourite retailers
                                                                                                                                                                • Teens prefer to shop in regular clothing sections
                                                                                                                                                                • Parent Behaviour towards Older Childrenswear

                                                                                                                                                                  • Three quarters buy childrenswear as and when needed
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 83: How parents feel about childrenswear, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                                    • More pressure on boys to be fashionable and wear brands
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 84: Parents of children aged 7-15-years-old who agree with the below statements, by gender of the child, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                                  • Who Children Shop With

                                                                                                                                                                    • Older shoppers most likely to go with friends
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 85: Who children go shopping with, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                                    • Just 3% of children do not go clothes shopping
                                                                                                                                                                    • Why Children Choose Clothing

                                                                                                                                                                      • Two thirds choose comfort as most important feature
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 86: Most important aspects for children when choosing clothes, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                                      • Approval from friends important for all
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 87: Missguided refer-a-friend scheme, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 88: Primark’s ‘Primania’ social media page, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                    • Favourite Retailers for Teens

                                                                                                                                                                      • Primark tops list of retailers
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 89: Where teens would choose to buy clothes from, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                                      • Store preferences fit in with gender stereotypes
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 90: Which type of retailer teens would spend money on, by gender, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                                    • Clothes Shopping Behaviour of Teens

                                                                                                                                                                      • Teens prefer to shop in adult section
                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 91: Teenagers’ behaviour towards clothing shopping, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                                      • Branded clothing important to teens
                                                                                                                                                                        • Social media personalities play important role in clothing decisions
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 92: Teenage behaviour towards social media personalities, August 2018
                                                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                            • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                              • Forecast methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 93: Best- and worst-case forecast of UK value sales of childrenswear, 2018-23