UK department store hails the "recessionista"

A shopper passes sale signs on the last weekend before Christmas in Oxford Street, central London December 20, 2008. REUTERS/Andrew Parsons

LONDON (Reuters) - The economic downturn has given birth to a new type of clothes shopper who is switching out of high-end luxury goods and into cheaper designer equivalents, British department store chain Debenhams said on Tuesday.

The “recessionista” is looking for the quality, durability and style of designer clothes, but with a “chicenomic” price tag in keeping with more straitened times, Debenhams said.

“The birth of the recessionista is evidence that more and more customers are looking for good value, great design and clothing that’s built to last,” Deputy Chief Executive Michael Sharp said in a statement, as Debenhams unveiled the spring/summer ranges for its “Designers at Debenhams” lines.

The ranges, by the likes of Jasper Conran, Betty Jackson, Matthew Williamson, John Rocha, Julien Macdonald and Ben di Lisi, achieved double-digit percentage sales growth in the run up to Christmas, the 219 year-old group said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Debenhams reported a 3.5 percent fall in like-for-like sales for the 18 weeks to January 3, which was not as big a decline as some analysts had expected.

Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by David Holmes