Key Note estimates the total retail sale of women’s lingerie, corsetry and hosiery to be £1.55bn in 1999, with sales of brassières accounting for around a third of the value. The UK clothing industry has struggled for some years against a downturn in demand and an increase in value, and an improvement in the quality of imported goods. The lingerie sector has been no exception. Between 1996 and 1998, imports of lingerie rose by almost a third, while exports fell by 6.6% in a trend unlikely to be reversed, especially with rises in the interest rates strengthening the pound still further.

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