Textile and clothing retail in Germany - Statistics & Facts

Textile and clothing retail are linked together because textile manufacturing as an industry leads to the production and sale of clothing items. Textiles also include workwear, sportswear, various home textiles and bedding. The German clothing retail sector generated fluctuating, but generally increasing amounts of revenue in the last two decades, passing the 30 billion euros mark after 2014. German consumers spent almost 78 billion euros on clothing and shoes in 2018. Consistently, the most popular retailers to shop for clothing and textile products were Otto (an online retailer), H&M and C&A.

Like many Western countries today, Germany’s clothing and textiles are not all manufactured nationally, with production being outsourced to factories elsewhere in the world. Based on import value, the most important countries for clothing imports to Germany are China, far outstripping Bangladesh and Turkey. Some of the most imported articles of clothing are dresses, suits and trousers. Concerns and issues accompanying clothes imports are working conditions for employees abroad, benefits and salaries, as well as following labor laws. Another issue around textile manufacturing is sustainable production to reduce or even cancel out negative impacts on the environment. Examples of the latter include mismanagement of production waste, increased amounts of water and chemicals used and CO2 emissions through the transport of goods. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of these topics, which is undoubtedly part of the reason why certified fair trade textile sales have been growing in Germany.

An ongoing challenge for the clothing retail business, specifically for brick-and-mortar stores, is online clothing retail. The explosive rise of online shopping among consumers also leads to stores closing, in addition to changing customer preferences, quality standards, convenience and rent costs in cities. Of course, the future may look different for those stores which embrace and develop their own online shops, thus creating a new revenue stream within their own brand. Most recently, online fashion shops in particular generated almost 7.7 billion euros worth of revenue. The emergence and accelerated development of online clothing retail doesn’t remove the aforementioned requirements for a fair textile industry. In fact, the issues surrounding textile manufacturing become even more acute with the ongoing development of online textile and clothing retail, as the rising demand from consumers, due in part simply to the convenience of online shopping, puts further pressure on industry employees and sectors.

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Textile and clothing retail in Germany

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