The clothing and footwear market in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia is expected to expand to EUR14bn in 2014, up from EUR13bn in 2011.

According to research house PMR, the Central European region grew at a sluggish pace between 2010 and 2012, with all markets, except Poland, recording figures lower than those achieved in 2008.

Its report, 'Clothing and footwear retail market in Central Europe 2012. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Market analysis and development forecasts for 2012-2014,' says the overall fashion market in the Central European (CE) region was worth EUR13bn in 2011, a 1% increase in local currencies, but slightly less in euro terms.

PMR forecasts suggest the medium-term outlook is less bleak, with expectations of a modest improvement in Central Europe over the next two years. Between 2011 and 2014, Poland and Romania are set to record the highest sales growth rates in clothing and footwear - 11% and 10%, respectively. It also expects Bulgaria to grow 9% over the next three years.

Spanish clothing company Inditex led the field as the largest clothing retailer in Central Europe in 2011, accounting for over 4% of the market through its more than 300 stores. Polish Lipp Group and Tesco rounded out the top three, accounting for some 12% of the market.

The budget sector is the most prevalent market in Central Europe, making up 46% of its value, with the most substantial presence in Hungary and Bulgaria.

Romania and Bulgaria are expected to develop more extensively than other countries in relative terms by 2013, while Poland and Romania should achieve the highest nominal value.

The outlook for the Slovak market is also promising and, after mid 2012, the Czech market is expected to rebound somewhat. However, the "Plaza stop" ban in Hungary, which prohibits the construction of retail stores taking up more than 300 square metres, means the market will face a shortage of new retail space.