Dotti, Zara or H&M? Australia offers the best of local and international fashion brands

About a year ago, speculation arose over the impact fast fashion giants

H&M, Uniqlo, Zara and Topshop would have on the Australian retail market. Fast forward to July 2015 and Roy Morgan Research reveals how these stores, along with other international chains, have performed amid comparable Australian fashion retailers.

Just a little more than 10.5 million Australians buy at least one item of clothing in an average four-week period, from a wide selection of retailers ranging from specialist fashion boutiques, department stores, sportswear shops, discount outlets, and dedicated online retailers, reveals the latest data from Roy Morgan Research.

According to the findings, among the trendier boutiques, which is a subset of the 66 fashion boutiques surveyed, H&M bags the top spot, with 143,000 Australians 14+ buying something there in any given four weeks. The second and third positions are a close call between Australian boutique Forever New (108,000) edging out Zara (106,000).

Japanese retailer Uniqlo attracts 58,000 shoppers in an average four weeks, and is fast catching up with US-founded fashion chain Esprit, which has had an Australian presence for decades, and clocks about 65,000 shoppers in the same period.

But while the number of customers is an important number, another crucial statistic is how much these shoppers actually spend in these stores.

The research found that Cue customers spend a mean of $165, making them the highest spenders by far of the stores measured above, well ahead of GAP and Zara shoppers ($93 respectively), and Forever New shoppers ($88).

On an average, shoppers at H&M spend $51, while the mean spend of a Uniqlo shopper is a modest $40 and Supre customers spend just $26.

Andrew Price, General Manager – Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research, says: “While some industry players were concerned that the recent international entries to the Australian market would threaten home-grown businesses, this doesn’t seem to have happened.

“Even with its high volume of customers, H&M currently accounts for just over 1% of total clothing shoppers and 0.6% of market dollar value (the same value as glam Aussie chain Forever New). With its customers spending slightly more on average, Zara has a fractionally higher share (0.7%) of the clothing market.

“Australian retailers keen to thrive in this increasingly crowded, globalised market need to be very clear about how their customers approach fashion shopping. For example, people who buy clothes at Sportsgirl and Dotti are far more likely than the average Aussie clothes shopper to agree with the statement, “I was born to shop” – with H&M being the only international whose customers come close in this respect.

“As all four chains are fairly recent arrivals on the national scene, their interest value is obviously still much stronger than their more familiar local counterparts. So it’s no surprise that Topshop, Uniqlo, H&M and Zara customers are all dramatically more likely than those of other boutiques to agree that “I wear clothes that will get me noticed”.