Russia remains one of the most attractive retail markets, offering nearly 143 million inhabitants, and an economy expected to develop at least 4% year on year in the medium term. In 2010, retail sales increased in Russia by nearly 13%, reaching around $540bn. Moreover, this year the pace of growth is not declining. The clothing and footwear market is the second-largest retail sector in the country after food retail, and after a stagnant 2009, the pace of growth significantly accelerated last year, as revealed in the latest PMR report entitled Clothing and footwear retail market in Russia 2011. Luxury market insight and development forecasts for 2011-2013. Many of its segments provide opportunities for those who are already operating in Russia, as well as those willing to enter the country’s competitive marketplace.
According to PMR estimates, the Russian clothing, footwear and accessories (CFA) market in 2010 amounted to RUB 1,704bn ($56.1bn), demonstrating a nearly 11% increase compared to the previous year. All the segments noticeably recovered after the decline (or slowdown) suffered as a result of the financial crisis. Clothing accounted for two-thirds of the total CFA market in 2010, whereas footwear and accessories constituted around 32% and 2%, respectively.
Reviving middle-price segment among key market drivers
PMR forecasts that over the next three years, the size of the Russian CFA market will expand, although at a decreasing pace, to reach around RUB 2.3tr ($75bn) in 2013, and all main CFA segments are expected to grow. Clothing and footwear will be driven by children’s wear, as well as the reviving middle-price segment, PMR analysts indicate. Sportswear and casual wear will also contribute significantly to the expected CFA market growth. In general, the accessories market is far from saturated yet, which implies the further development of this category. It should be also underlined that in Russia, the value of retail sales at current prices is still boosted by rising prices.
Prior to the financial crisis, growing purchasing power stimulated a demand shift from cheap to more expensive products. However, the economic instability has led to changes in demand as Russian consumers started to reduce their spending on clothing and footwear. The low-price segment expanded at the expense of the middle one. In 2010, the market started to recover with the restoration of price segment positions in the CFA market. Thus, in the post-crisis CFA market, the middle-price segment is forecast to have most dynamic development.
The CFA market remains specific in terms of its distribution channels. When compared to other categories (such as food or consumer electronics), open-air markets enjoy a significant share of sales in the CFA sector. Although legislative changes negatively impacted the development of open-air markets, they are still very popular among Russians, add PMR analysts. However, it is CFA retail chains, as well as online and catalogue sales, that are predicted to grow most dynamically in Russia, with the latter retaining a marginal share. Currently, CFA retail chains, including globally known brands, hold a fifth of the CFA market. The post-crisis climate finds the CFA chains stronger, modernised, restyled with verified assortment, and thus ready for further expansion. Independent shops scattered throughout Russia remain frequent places for CFA shopping, despite the declining share of this channel in the market.
Luxury clothing and footwear market on the rise again
Despite the economic crisis, Russia still proves to be a promising market, including for luxury business. Many luxury retailers, such as the Ritter Group, intend to focus on regional expansion to other large cities of Russia beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg. Some luxury CFA brands tend to establish their own distribution channels, terminating their contracts with distributors in Russia, in order to streamline and accelerate their territorial growth. Among brands that have recently decided to develop independent operations in Russia are Hermes Group and Prada. On the other hand, Hugo Boss, which will also operate on its own, to exploit the potential of the Russian regions plans to continue cooperation with the franchisees.
The Russian market is also attractive for new players offering luxury CFA. The British designer Stella McCartney re-entered the Russian market at the end of 2010, while the London-based Jimmy Choo announced the opening of its first monobrand boutique in the country by September 2011.
In 2011, the competitive landscape has undergone considerable change due to Crocus Group’s decision to exit luxury retailing and focus on development projects. The company, which has opened nearly 60 boutiques in Russia since 1991, is closing its stores and passing the rights to develop its luxury brands back to their owners and to market rivals. This step gives way to the other luxury players, including four market leaders: Bosco di Ciliegi, JamilCo, Mercury Group, and Podium Fashion Group.
This article is based on information contained in the latest PMR report entitled “Clothing and footwear retail market in Russia 2011. Luxury market insight and development forecasts for 2011-2013”.