As promised here is my second blog on this auspicious date of 29th February. Relax lads I’m not going to propose to anyone today but here are my retail thoughts on this leap year day. So what has changed since 29th February 2012? Not to bore you with a load of statistics but here are some key ones to ponder.

  • 275,000 people were employed in retail in 2015
  • 250,000 in 2012, when 50,000 people had already lost their retail jobs
  • Sales were up 2.5% in 2015 vs 2014
  • Sales were down 25% in 2012 vs 2011

So what does that tell you? I think it says that, whilst there are some signs of improvement, it is more in the green shoots category rather than a full blown recovery – to use that (un)popular phrase! Retail is still hard work and it is a struggle for most retailers to maintain or build sales.

The other interesting figure for last year is that volume growth was 6.4% against value growth of 2.4%, which means that price is still key i.e. we are selling more at lower prices. But there’s a distinction between price and value. I’ll be discussing this in the next blog.
What of the technology? It’s on everyone’s lips as either the greatest or worst thing since sliced bread! But it is here to stay.

  • 2015 – 70% of people use a smartphone as their main mobile device
    – 49% have access to a tablet (with 15% more going to buy one)
  • 2012 – 39% of people use a smartphone as their main mobile device
    – 10% have access to a tablet

Other research has shown that customers still respond to the instore shopping experience when delivered by a knowledgeable and helpful sales person. The difference is that the customer has researched the product online (showrooming) before entering the store. So our customers are more knowledgeable and therefore demand a higher standard of service. Retailers must grasp this as an opportunity and not a threat.

So here we are in 2016 after an amazing weekend on the political front, but at least there are some options for the new government whatever their hue. In 2012 we were still struggling with the debt crisis and retail was on the floor. So to those who have survived – congratulations – but know your customer, what they buy and how they want to buy it.

Enjoy this bonus day and happy retailing!

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