The outlook for the UK accessories market is bleak, with forecast growth of just 2.6% out to 2024, making it the worst-performing category in the clothing sector. As shopper numbers dwindle, especially among older demographics, and many cut back on self-treating, accessories specialists must exploit the prevailing appetite among younger shoppers.

38.3% of UK clothing shoppers bought accessories in the year to March 2019, down from 50.6% in 2016 – highlighting the category’s deprioritisation among consumers. We expect shoppers to continue to shift their spend away from accessories amid constricted budgets and more mindful shopping behaviour, resulting in fewer impulse buys and greater focus on replacement purchases.

The shining light remains the under 25s, as despite a drop of 1.9 percentage points over the three-year period, penetration among this group remains above 60%, around double that of 55+s, giving a clear indication of the demographic worth targeting. While this should play into the hands of specialists Accessorize and Claire’s Accessories, they are faced with intimidating competition from clothing players such as Primark and H&M, and online pureplays ASOS and, which hold destination appeal, overt fashion credentials, and outfit building prowess.

Unable to drive footfall via other categories, Accessorize and Claire’s Accessories must up their game when it comes to trends, with improved speed to market essential to raise fashion credibility and top of mind appeal among younger shoppers. All the more vital as the likes of Zara and & Other Stories widen their accessories and jewellery ranges. While accessories has the lowest online penetration of

all fashion subsectors, these specialists must better harness the power of social media to attract new customers and interact with existing shoppers to drive repeat visits and purchases.