The days when women’s shapewear was hidden out of sight at the back of lingerie drawers are long gone. The market has gone through a revolution, with shapewear now reflecting a societal shift towards body positivity, helping to finesse and smooth rather than suck, tuck or make consumers feel smaller. As society embraces diverse body shapes and sizes, so do the brands facilitating change, enabling women to choose shapewear to feel more confident and comfortable in their outfits.
Consumer spend on shapewear in the UK retail market is estimated to now be worth around £42 million in the year to July 2023, according to Kantar. Celebrity endorsements and brands such as SKIMS (described as “solutionwear”) are making shapewear an everyday product, as opposed to a restrictive piece of clothing only worn under occasionwear.
UK shapewear prices have increased by 8% on average since 2020, now hitting £42.53 per item. This is according to data extracted by Centric Market IntelligenceTM to conceptualise market trends, published in Centric Software®’s UK Women’s Shapewear Trend Report.
Who is the shapewear customer?
Shapewear is not driven by seasonal consumer purchasing trends, meaning businesses have and will continue to adopt long-term strategies to generate sales year-on-year. As an evergreen wardrobe staple, it’s all the more important that businesses promote inclusivity, attracting a broad range of consumers to successfully reap the benefits of this boom.
According to research undertaken by Kantar, Gen Z and millennial customers are increasingly purchasing shapewear, with a 12.6% overall spend by those aged 18-24 in 2023; a 4.8% increase from the previous year. Shapewear as a fashion category is increasingly perceived positively among younger consumers as a way to show off and enhance your body shape, rather than cover up or disguise it.
Search data from Centric Market Intelligence confirms its popularity in the UK since 2020, with average monthly queries topping 4,400 for “Skims shapewear”, while searches for “Skims bras” have increased by more than 300% year-on-year. Due to fabric technology advancements, customers are opting to wear shapewear as part of their everyday outfit, extending into the outerwear and loungewear sectors due to its breathability, support and comfort.
Elizabeth Shobert, market intelligence expert for Centric Software, comments that “shape and loungewear brand Skims, in particular, has upgraded and broadened the restrictive associations of traditional shapewear, with more comfortable fabrics, inclusive colourways, and new shapewear categories”.
What do trends suggest?
Having analysed data across 44 reputable retail brands in the UK, Centric Market Intelligence noted that the original price point of women’s shapewear is at its highest level since 2020.
The shapewear market was unsurprisingly one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, meaning 2021 was the cheapest year for shoppers, with the cost per item averaging £39.26. The market has experienced an uplift in sales since, with comfort at the top of the consumer agenda. Customers splashed out an average of £46.16 per shapewear item in 2023; £6.90 more than in 2021.
Centric Market Intelligence’s UK 2023 shapewear report highlights that discounting rates across the UK are increasing in line with prices, but varied year-on-year with continuous fluctuation. In Q1 of 2020, the average discount was 9%, and by Q4 of 2023 this had grown to just 10%. In the UK, this represents an average change of 11%, suggesting retailer pricing strategy shifts.
Naturally, this could be a direct result of a highly competitive market. To entice consumer attention, retailers adjust their strategies to stand out in the market for long-term success. Perhaps another overlooked reason is consumer sensitivity to prices, especially as disposable income in the UK continues to be squeezed by rising inflation. Purchasing of non-essential items has suffered, so retailers need to stimulate demand in other ways. Discounting more heavily is one way of doing so, while retaining at least some profits.
When reviewing average discount penetration, the percentage of products offered by retailers at a discount rate, Centric Market Intelligence indicates a shapewear discount penetration rate of 28% in Q3 2023, compared to 31% in Q3 2020. While the average discount has increased, as discussed above, there has been a 9.7% decrease in discount penetration. Fewer products are being discounted, but discounts are heavier. This could be the result of changes in buying behaviour, as shoppers become less reliant on discounts when making purchasing decisions, or are simply more selective when pursuing discounted products. Retailers are responding, and the decrease in discount penetration could be a deliberate act to balance out the depth of discounting in order to maintain profit margins.
What’s clear is that the perception of shapewear is changing, stimulated by the success of celebrity brands such as SKIMS, and is prompting a positive response from market leaders.
Click to read the full UK Shapewear Market Trend Report.
Centric Market Intelligence uses the power of AI to analyse vast amounts of price and trend data, empowering teams to make better product and assortment decisions. Request a demo of Centric Market Intelligence.
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