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01.06.2006.Sportswear sales struggle as the sports shops discount heavily to entice customers

London, May 19 2006. Sportswear sales are expected to receive a muchneeded boost over the next couple of months thanks to the World Cup, predicts TNS Worldpanel Fashion, a leading market information provider. During the 2002 World Cup, the sportswear market in Great Britain grew by a massive 24 % in the 12 weeks to 30th June 2002, compared with the same period the previous year, as fans took to showing their support for the team through their clothing.

The sportswear market, currently valued at £1.82bn in the 24 weeks to 2nd April 2006, is struggling as sales fall 2 % against the same period last year. This contrasts the fortunes of the wider clothing market which grew by 2 %. Prices also dropped as retailers (especially sports shops) discounted products more heavily. A massive 40 % of all spending in the market was on discounted products in the last six months. Children’s sportswear saw the biggest price cuts with discounted sales up 26 % against the previous year. Worryingly for the big brands, sales of manufacturer branded items fell by £45m partly due to price cuts of 9 %.

Fiona Bell, Director, TNS Fashion, comments: “The industry will be more focussed on the sportswear market over the coming months as England supporters eagerly anticipate the country’s performance in the 2006 World Cup. Over half of all branded items are now sold at discount and manufacturers will be hoping that England has a good start to the tournament to boost their sales.”

Men are driving the decline in the sports clothing market (down £37.7m in the past year). Sales of male sportswear fell a massive 11 % as people purchased fewer items despite falling prices. In particular, sales struggled amongst younger men (aged under 35) as the fashion trend moved away from sportswear – sales of non-sports clothing were up 10 %.

Amongst the sports shops, discount chain Sports World is slashing prices – in particular targeting JJB’s customer base. In contrast, premium chains such as JD Sports are increasing their prices – 78 % of JD Sports sales are at full price compared with just 54 % for JJB and 32 % for Sports World. The average price of sportswear in Sports World is just £ 9.89 compared with £17.45 in JJB and £31.05 in JD Sports.

Fiona Bell concluded: “With such high levels of discounting failing to stem falling sales, the industry needs something to inspire the public to return to the sportswear market. It will be interesting to see if the 24 % growth experienced in 2002 is matched, or even surpassed, over the next three months. Many business are banking on it.”

Note to Editor

*Sportswear includes all clothing, footwear and accessories which are sports brands, purchased for sports usage (e.g. football) or a sportswear item (e.g. jogging bottoms).

These findings are based on TNS Worldpanel Fashion data for the 24-week ending data to 02 April 2006. TNS Worldpanel Fashion monitors the clothing, footwear and accessories purchasing trends of 15,000 demographically representative British individuals. All data discussed in the above announcement is based on the number of and value of items being bought by these consumers, TNS will only support data which is published in the context we have presented it and our own interpretation of these findings. We cannot be held responsible for any other interpretation of these findings.

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