2009 has been a difficult year for clothing and footwear retailers in Poland.

According to estimates included in the latest report from PMR, the value of Poland's clothing and footwear market will shrink by more than 6% to PLN25.5bn (US$8.7bn) in 2009.

The decline is due to lower demand and falling spending on clothing and footwear as a result of rising unemployment, slower growth of salaries and poor consumer confidence caused by the financial and economic crisis in Poland and worldwide.
The report "Clothing and footwear retail market in Poland 2009, market analysis and development forecast for 2009-2011," expects the clothing and footwear market to return to the upward trend in subsequent years.

Indeed, sales growth is forecast at 5% for 2010.

"With the more optimistic situation in the economy, the overall consumer climate will improve and consumers will again be more willing to spend on clothing and footwear," said PMR retail analyst Patrycja Nalepa.

Threats and opportunities
Nalepa notes that not only have consumers cut their spending on clothing and shoes, but retailers are also fighting rising costs on retail space and imports due to the low value of the zloty.

As a consequence, most companies are experiencing financial difficulties, and many are looking for investors. The crisis may also create an opportunity for takeovers of companies that have fallen on hard times.

It is also easier to find new shopping centre locations and good lease deals.

The crisis will also be beneficial for those companies that offer inexpensive clothing and footwear as these goods are now in high demand.

"This is the time for firms to review their strategies and an opportunity to strengthen the position of the best-managed companies," Nalepa added.

She recommends companies cushion the impact of the economic slowdown by launching restructuring programmes, including reducing operating costs, abandoning their least profitable concepts and limiting or suspending investment projects both in Poland and abroad.

Click here for more information on PMR's report "Clothing and footwear retail market in Poland 2009, market analysis and development forecast for 2009-2011"