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Retail market for clothing and footwear

Which European country should a clothing and footwear manufacturer choose?

The retail market for clothing and footwear in Europe is competitive and dynamic. There are many large clothing and footwear brands in Europe, such as H&M, Zara, Nike, Adidas and others. The market is also saturated with local brands and independent stores.

The European apparel and footwear retail market is growing in popularity due to the rise of online shopping, as well as consumer interest in sustainable fashion and environmental responsibility. Major brands are already working to improve their production of more sustainable products and environmental footprint.

In this report, our analysts have compiled a brief market overview to help you make your market choices based on big data.

Market size

The amount of money in markets is a key macroeconomic indicator that most business owners and investors rely on when deciding whether to enter a market. Markets with high volumes are more attractive for doing business.

A quarter of a trillion dollar market (€274.9 billion) for clothing and footwear retail in Europe is home to a third of a million companies (332.7K). The average turnover of a European company is €930 thousand.

In terms of market size, European countries can be divided into two groups: large (with a turnover of more than €20 billion), which includes: UK (€55.3B), Germany (€47.4B), Italy (€36B), France (€34.6B) and Spain (€24.2B), and small ones with a turnover of less than €20 billion. Three countries account for half of the total turnover: The UK, Germany and Italy.

Over the past 7 years, large markets have been declining in volume or growing slightly: their growth is tenths of a percent per annum. Among small markets, Eastern European countries are actively growing. Romania (+63.2%), Poland (+58.3%) and Serbia (55.6%) showed the highest growth. Our analysts recommend paying attention to the Polish market: the retail market for clothing and footwear in this country was worth €10.4 billion.

Consumer spending

The analysis of the consumer basket provides an understanding of how much consumers have paid for a given product or service over the past year and how their preferences have changed over the past decade.

The average amount spent on clothing per capita in Europe in 2021 was €438 per adult. The highest annual expenditures were in Luxembourg (€980.8), the United Kingdom (€827.7) and Austria (€785.2).

Since 2015, the average growth in individual consumption of goods in European countries has increased by an average of 16.5%. The largest growth in individual consumption of clothing and footwear since 2015 was observed in Romania (69.7%: increase from €78.73 to €133.58), Serbia (61.5%: increase from €40.7 to €71.17) and Poland (59.3% from €173.73 to €276.79). Northern European countries are actively reducing consumption. In Norway, Sweden and Denmark, the average amount spent on clothing and footwear decreased by 18.2%, 17.1% and 15.5% respectively over the same period.

Competition coefficient (CC)

The competitive ratio is an indicator developed by Panoptic Insights analysts. It shows the number of companies with which you will have to compete for the median annual turnover in a given segment. For example: a CC of 2 means that for every €N thousand (where N is the median value of the company's turnover), two companies will have to compete in the market. The lower the value of the indicator, the lower the level of competition. 

The median CoC in the clothing and footwear retail segment in Europe is 1.58. Only three countries have a competition coefficient value less than one: Slovakia (0.36), the United Kingdom (0.41) and Croatia (0.7). Oversaturated markets with the highest CoC: Ireland (11.28), Estonia (8.89) and Bulgaria (6.21).

Cost of customer acquisition

The cost of a lead is the amount of money a business has to pay to start communicating with a customer. A lead is a person interested in buying a product/service who has started communication (via email, messenger or phone call). This indicator is used by marketers to make marketing budget forecasts.

The average cost of generating a lead to buy clothes or shoes in Europe is €11. In the Nordic countries and Luxembourg, this figure is more than twice as high. In northern Europe, in addition to the high cost of leads for business, marketing costs account for a significant share of the product cost structure. For example, in Finland, companies spend more than 11.1% on marketing, and in Estonia - 8.1% (with the average for the Eurozone countries being 3.15%).


Our team in the apparel and footwear retail market identifies several key indicators for making market entry decisions. Firstly, the size of the market and consumption growth dynamics, secondly, we analyse consumption, and thirdly, the size of marketing expenditures.

Among the largest markets, we suggest paying attention to the Spanish market, which is the only large market that maintains an annual growth rate of 2%. Its advantages are high annual spending on clothing (€509.8), low cost per lead (€5.7) and a level of competition below the European median (1.54). These indicators make Spain an excellent solution for medium to high marketing budgets.

Among the smaller markets, our analysts highlight Poland: individual consumption, which has grown by more than €100 per person over the past 7 years, and a low cost per lead (€5.9) will allow your company to compete with other companies even with small and modest advertising budgets. 

More data

Get more indicators in the extended report that our analysts have been working on. In the full report you will find:

  • Market dynamics and business environment characteristics of the regions you have selected.
  • Investment climate and an overview of the preferences of venture capitalists, investment bankers and business angels.
  • Target portrait of your service user (for small and medium-sized businesses)
  • A forecast of the detailed cost of lead acquisition in each of up to 3 communication channels.
  • A detailed sales funnel with a description of effective mechanics and channels for attracting customers.
  • An overview of competitors with a similar value proposition to yours (marketing channels, advertising mechanics, and evaluation of the effectiveness of advertising campaigns).
  • Mechanisms for cost optimisation in the chosen market.
    Insights that can be used for meaningful growth.
  • A set of initial data for further analysis.
Choose a convenient time to contact our analyst and within one hour we will find a way to increase your business revenue. 

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