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The French clothing market shows slowing growth



The French clothing market shows slowing growth
  • Intersport is now joint market leader alongside Decathlon in fashion
  • The online fashion market in France still leaves room for improvement: 14% of market share value versus 27% in the UK
  • More than 40% of French people feel that “all clothes shops are the same”

The annual Référenseigne Expert Fashion 2018 presents the challenges distributors and brands face this year, in a sector which is undergoing a profound transformation.

A textile market losing momentum 

Like the food and staple consumer goods markets, textiles and clothing have stated to slow in France. Even while overall consumption remains upbeat (the country is beginning to grow again and morale is recovering), this sector continues to decline. Performance at the start of 2018 was lacklustre and the market has lost 10% of its value over 10 years. As in Spain and the United Kingdom, the pressure that consumers are exerting on prices has become common, along with the increase in volume of online sales. Supermarkets, online retailers and advertising campaigns are offering more options than the French can afford to buy. Where the offer is poorly differentiated, many retailers are now struggling to find their audience.

New forms of competition

The competitive landscape for clothing in France is changing, and mainly these changes are occurring online. Fashion is the biggest online sector representing 17.2% of sales. In 2018, 46.2% of French people made fashion purchases online. The top 15 websites now account for 50% of fashion spending online in France. Amazon, France’s new leader in online fashion (with 7.6% of market share value), boasts 5.5 million shoppers in the country.

Discount stores like Action and Stokomani are also in growth, benefitting from the retail park boom and the demand for low price goods from those on lower incomes. These upheavals are now shaking up major retailers which are in decline for the seventh consecutive year (-0.8 market share value points at the end of June). Hypermarkets and supermarkets reach no higher than sixth place in fashion spending.

The emergence of new leaders

These changes in the market are forcing brands and retailers to create new plans for growth. They are targeting clientele with strong potential such as millennials and baby-boomers −high spenders on fashion− and improving their offer rather than just promoting more heavily. These changes also favour the emergence of new leaders, such as Intersport.

By rolling out a development strategy in complete contrast with its rivals and drawing upon its retail network, wide range and advertising, the brand name has become co-leader of the textile market this year alongside Decathlon (3.3% of market share value), ahead of Galeries Lafayette (3.2%) and Leclerc (3%).

2018 fashion brand ranking

The weak market growth in fashion has not halted leadership wars among stakeholders. This year, Intersport became the market co-leader alongside Decathlon, ahead of Galeries Lafayette. Apart from E. Leclerc, supermarkets are struggling to keep their places in this ranking.


Kantar Worldpanel – market share value – Total textile / shoes / accessories – year at end of June 2018

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Camille Denou
Communications manager

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