The Current Economic Climate

3. 0The Current Economic Climate * Our research clearly shows that retailers believe consumer spending will continue to be constricted throughout 2012. The fear of unemployment, particularly for those working in the public sector, will continue to depress consumer sentiment. Combined with inflation rates that will outstrip wage increases, and consumers continuing to pay down debt, it makes top-line growth difficult. RW 2012) * While the figure continues to tick up, and unemployment among the young particularly impacts on the retailers who serve them, the threat of unemploy- ment depresses the spending of many more. (RW 2012) * Several forces at play are making life difficult for those who want to promote high streets; not least the continued growth of online sales, plus the total costs of high street property compared with footfall and sales densities. (RW 2012) (RW 2012) * Inflation has squeezed disposable incomes, particularly among the C2DE socioeconomic groups. RW 2012) * 32% The percentage of British shoppers who feel they have no cash to spare, according to the BRC and Nielsen in August 2011 (RW 2012) * Coming at a time of squeezed income by heightened inflation in essentials such as food and petrol, one might have expected consumers to cut their cloth. Yet, a number of sources including the Office for National Statistics confirm consumer spending on clothing increased by more than the rate of inflation in 2011: Mintel estimates total clothing spend grew by 4. 7%, well outpacing CPI for the clothing category.
Despite the economic context, consumers therefore grew their clothing spend significantly in real terms in 2011, suggesting an underlying resilience in the market: clothes shoppers may be deterred by rain, but they are very unwilling to cut their purchases in response to a deterioration in their spending power. (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * Economy slowly recovering – falling headline inflation and recent falls in the number of people unemployed suggests the economy is showing signs of recovery since the start of 2012. Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * Double-dip recession * export * The UK economy is officially back in recession. The erratic economic growth seen in 2011 – up 0. 5% in the first quarter, down 0. 1% in the second quarter, up 0. 6% in the third quarter – ended down 0. 4% in the final quarter of 2011. This year the downward trend has been more sustained. Firstly, contracting 0. 3% in the first quarter and then by 0. 5% between April and June. It is the same story for year-on-year GDP growth, which has fallen from 1. % in the first quarter of 2011 to -0. 5% in the second quarter of 2012. Attempts to stimulate economic growth have been largely thwarted, despite a sustained period of historically low interest rates and quantitative easing measures. The unresolved euro-zone debt crisis continues to impact on the UK economy, hitting both jobs and growth. * (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * 3. 1 The UK retail environment. * after many years of erosion, neglect and mismanagement, something I felt was destined to disappear forever. (MP, 2011). out-of-town retail has drained the traffic and retail offer from our town centres, (MP, 2011) * With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years and total consumer spend away from our high streets now over 50%,(MP, 2011). * • The number of town centre stores fell by almost 15,000 between 2000 and 2009 with an estimated further 10,000 losses over the past couple of years;2 (MP, 2011). * • Nearly one in six shops stands vacant;3 (MP, 2011). * • Excluding Central London, high street footfall has fallen by around 10% in the last three years;4(MP, 2011). the overarching strategy for most retailers in 2012 is going to be presenting a great customer experience and its successful execution will depend on delivering a pitch perfect performance in all areas of the business. (RW 2012) * One operations director suggests that the Portas report is too late to reverse the decline: “I think the secondary high streets are finished, because you can’t sustain a store in a market where nobody wants to shop. What could happen in a low-rent high street is that new forms of retail entertainment will spring up. ” (RW 2012) The operations director of a major retailer explains: “I think the secondary high streets are finished, because you can’t sustain a store in a market where nobody wants to shop. What could happen in a low rent high street is that new forms of retail entertainment will spring up. ” (RW 2012) * “Research I have seen shows that even by 2020, 87% of all customers’ journeys will involve a store at some stage… So I think talk of the high street’s demise is nonsense,” says the chief executive of a department store. (RW 2012) * “Change isn’t coming; it’s come and moved on” (Sibun, 2012).
RMR * In the UK, several forces at play are making life difficult for those who want to promote high streets, not least the continued growth of online sales, plus the total costs of high street property compared with footfall and sales densities. (RW 2012, P. 58) * One operations director suggests the Portas report is too late to reverse the decline: “I think the secondary high streets are finished, because you can’t sustain a store in a market where nobody wants to shop. What could happen in a low-rent high street is that new forms of retail entertainment will spring up. ” (RW 2012, P. 58) “High-profile retail failures cannot be taken as indicative of the sector’s health. Consumers may be under pressure financially, but there is little sign of them cutting their spending on clothing. Retailing is a remarkably robust sector – and any retailer’s failure to secure growth is by consequence down to their own failings. ” * – John Mercer, Senior Retail Analyst (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * Figure 1: Clothing specialists’ sales (? m, incl. VAT), 2007-17 * * * In-store technology designed to enhance the multichannel shopping experience is a key theme among major retailers’ innovations: (Mintel 2012, lothing retailing). * Marks & Spencer is reportedly investing ? 100 million on improving its digital offering to encourage customers to browse and learn more about products. The retailer’s new 151,000 sq ft outlet at Cheshire Oaks in Ellesmere Port includes a host of in-store innovation including HD display screen showcasing product, browse-and-order screens, and staff equipped with iPads. (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * Oasis has introduced an in-store iPad shopping facility enabling customers to order clothes from the store’s fitting room and have them delivered to their home.

Shop staff equipped with iPads can check garment availability from anywhere on the shop floor. (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * Debenhams is launching free wifi in its 167 shops. Customers will be able to use their smartphones and mobile devices to access Debenhams information and special deals as they walk around the shop. Customers can check for sizes and availability and if it isn’t in store, scan the barcode to order it for home delivery. (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * 3. 2Threat of the internet. * But new technological developments now mean that the internet is one of the key threats to retail on our high streets.
Although internet sales currently account for less than 10% of all retail sales some estimates suggest that e-commerce accounted for nearly half of all retail sales growth in the UK between 2003 and 2010, as internet access has become more widespread And we have seen dramatic growth in ‘m-commerce’ – sales over mobile devices – of more than 500% in the last two years. (MP, 2011). * De Kare Silver argues that this is, “gradually ceasing to be a bricks and mortar world”9 and shows that a 15% drop in store sales of most high street retailers pushes them below break even and into loss.
It’s not just the small retailers; many businesses on the high street are feeling the pinch. De Kare Silver M (2011) e-shock 2020: How the Digital Technology Revolution is Changing Business and All Our Lives(MP, 2011). mp 2011 * One retailer comments that if you want customers to come into store then you have to treat them really well, otherwise why wouldn’t they just go and buy from Amazon. (RW 2012) * * RW 2012 – Shows that the focus is moving away from purely focusing on new channel, looking to utilise existing channels too aka stores. It’s perhaps easy to blame the high street’s problems on the continued growth in online sales. But actually as retailers have begun to deliver more integrated multichannel services they have found that online and mobile channels benefit stores. Industry body IMRG estimates that 10. 4% of all UK online retail sales in August to October 2011 were fulfilled through click-and-collect services. At the top end of the scale, retailers such as Halfords say click and collect is driving 85% of web customers to store. (RW 2012) * Mintel 2012, forecast that the total UK expenditure on clothing and footwear via the internet will rise 86% to ? . 4bn by 2016. (Past Disso, SJG) * VM will become even more important as retailers will have to excite and entertain customers who are being distracted through a forest of other media (Glen Folley, Head of VM T. M. Lewin. VM 2020). * Growth of online sales will prove a challenge to VM in capturing the customer in store. (Sarah Bailey LCF, VM 2020). * Stores currency will be rooted in providing spectacle, wonder and kinship as well as authority and expertise beyond what can be found online (Lorna Hall, Retail Editior WGSN) 2D will never be as fulfilling as 3D (Andi Grant, Creative Director SFD Inspired Retail Design. ) * The latest challenge is the internet, shopping from home is easier, price competitive, price of parking (Tony Morgan VM) * With the rise of online shopping and consumer’s spending less time in store (Bell and Ternus, 2006), (RMR) * “The latest challenge to in store retailers is the internet with online shopping. Shopping from home is easier and price competitive. Retailers are under more pressure than ever to insure customers return and spend. ” (Morgan, 2008, p. 15). RMR) * Despite what we are being told about significant growth online, conversion rates online still tend to be substantially lower than in traditional bricks and mortar stores. Retailers believe this is due to the customer’s inability to physically interact with an item online. (Retail Week, 2012a). RMR “20 percent of people never buy fashion online, while 40 percent do so once a month or more. ” (Retail Week, 2012a)RMR * Primark is a good example of a brand that is incorporating technology within their stores rather than “jumping onto the multichannel band wagon” (Pert, 2012).
Primark is yet to have a transactional website because it wouldn’t fit within their brand ethos. Primark has a highly successful model and its choosing technology that helps support, enhance and replicate this model (Pert, 2012), rather than going fully online. RMR * * Peter Cross, business partner of Mary Portas – and manager of one half of her retail consultancy – Yellow Door, said: “Retail theatre is not a new thing, but the sheer power of the internet and its efficiency means that so much transactional retailing can happen online, so shops have to up their game. ttp://www. independent. co. uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/retailtainment-the-future-of-shopping-2303942. html * * “Offline shops have realised they have to do something else other than simply sell you stuff. ” http://www. independent. co. uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/retailtainment-the-future-of-shopping-2303942. html * Karl Lagerfeld Prefers Bricks over Clicks * Published: Feb 13, 09 References: nymag * Karl Lagerfeld prefers the physical part of shopping in person vs. the visual part of shopping online.
Lagerfeld was meeting with the EU competition commissioner to discuss the loosening of restrictions of selling luxury goods—read: anything designed by Karl Lagerfeld—online. * Lagerfeld extolls the pleasure of buying where one can feel the fabric and see colors in natural light. Lagerfeld is not a Luddite; with the help of his assistant, bodyguard and sometimes model Sebastien Jondeau he will sometimes buy CDs and books from Amazon. com. But “And I still like bookshops, and not because I have one,” he said. (Lagerfeld’s store 7L sells photobooks. * http://www. trendhunter. com/trends/karl-lagerfeld-embraces-bricks-over-clicks * Figure 3: Main shops used for clothing in the last 12 months, instore or online, July 2012 * Base: 1,968 internet users aged 16+ who have bought clothing in last 12 months * * (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * How are online and in-store working together? We have argued that consumers make less and less distinction between the two. Even so, the message of the next figure is that they treat shopping trips separately.
Overall, however, the results tie in with the fact that only around 10% of clothing is sold online and that buying in-store is much the most popular route. * Figure 4: How consumers made their most recent clothing purchase, July 2012 * Base: 2,000 internet users aged 16+ * * (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * Our consumer research found nearly half of Next and M;S shoppers had bought online – yet, clearly, their online sales make up a far lower proportion of their total revenues, suggesting their customers are selectively mixing in-store and online shopping.
Meanwhile, overall, 18% of womenswear shoppers and 19% of menswear shoppers had used the internet as part of the browsing or purchase process, but a large proportion of this was in conjunction with store-based browsing and shopping. * Indeed, it tends only to be struggling retailers that are using the justification of a migration to online shopping for planned or mooted store closures: French Connection, New Look, and some of Arcadia’s fashion fascia, for example. * (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * * * (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). Key analysis: It is already obvious that consumers use in-store and online interchangeably as buying media. But there is still a bias to the young when it comes to researching online first. (Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * Retailers who ignore a channel of distribution do so at their peril. A store based retailer must have a complementary online offer. But purchasers of branded goods from an online only retailer have probably seen the product first in a store. The online retailer only makes a sale because the customer has decided not to buy it in-store immediately. Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * * Mintel estimates online clothing sales increased 18% to ? 4. 6 billion in 2011, and we expect growth of 14% for 2012 taking the online market size to ? 5. 2 billion, equivalent to 13% of consumer spending on clothing. * Mintel’s consumer research for our Fashion Online report found that consumers are buying online more frequently and the popularity of internet shopping is gaining ground on in-store shopping. Over a fifth (22%) of consumers now buy more clothes online than they do in-store, compared to just over one in ten (12%) in 2010.
For full consumer research findings, and market size data for online fashion including footwear, see Mintel’s report, Fashion Online – UK, March 2012. * think with the nature of the high street and the amount of companies going into administration Online is the way forward. Independents are being hit with high rents for bricks and mortar and are having to close after just a short period. (Surfdome Interview) * 3. Are surfdome purposely an online brand or is it because it is cheaper to trade online. would they branch out to having a highstreet presence). We wouldn’t branch out to open on the high street. We are already seeing amazing growth online, 2012 finished +76% vs 2011 (Surfdome Interview) * * 3. 3 Store Closures * Where retailers used to need 400 or 500 shops to touch the length and breadth of Britain, with the sheer power of the internet they now need far less. For example, as I write Sir Philip Green, CEO of Arcadia Group, has announced the reduction of his own retail estate as leases expire(MP, 2011). At the time of writing, Barratts Priceless had just fallen into administration, and HMV had issued results alongside a warning that the future of the business was open to question. (RW 2012) mp 2011 * Retailers at the value end of fashion have particularly found themselves exposed to the problem of too many stores in places where footfall can’t achieve the sales they need to cover their costs. Several we spoke to warned that their store portfolios will likely shrink during the year, and other retailers said they would reposition stores and look for better rent deals even if they don’t intend to shrink store numbers overall. RW 2012) * The businesses named as those in trouble are the ones likely to have too many stores. But property costs aren’t the only reasons mainstream fashion retailers are struggling to adapt to the realities of the market. Some are still running their buying operations as though it is the boom years. (RW 2012) * But retailers outside of these four struggling sectors are not immune from problems And indeed any business with too many stores, poor cash flow and large debts to service will face challenges to survive the year. RW 2012) * UK stores have become more important, and as later chapters of this report show, despite the fact retailers are reviewing the number of stores they need in a multichannel world, they are prepared to invest in those they keep open. (RW 2012) * The rate of highstreet shop closures is increasing due to rises in VAT, income tax and rent, high levels of inflation, and lower wage growth, meaning that consumers particulary in the middle class sector have less disposable income and are changing their spending habits. Past Disso, SJG) * The ‘Economist Intelligence Unit’, predict e-sales will make up a third of all retail sales in Britain in ten years time (Sibun, 2012). With online retailing proving such a success, many individuals have voiced concerns that the “Highstreet is dying” when faced with the “virtual onslaught” (Pert, 2012). It has been reported that a slew of shops have been closing stores to focus on their online offering (Blackden, 2012). RMR * RW 2012 * However, it’s clear that there is a space shift on the cards.
The chairman of a fashion retailer says his business may close 100 stores in 2012, as it wants fewer, larger stores; which he says are difficult to find. “We will only open stores in exceptional locations such as Westfield… We have far too many expensive leases and we are having negotiations with landlords at the moment. ” (RW 2012) * Another fashion chief executive, who is happy with most of his stores which are in prime locations, adds: “There are a few sites in difficulty. But when a shop is in trouble we run it on a cash-for-cash basis. If the property is taking more cash than it is costing, then the store stays open.
If not, it closes. We may look at the lease renewal and then take a view as to whether to close, to renegotiate or to resite. ” (RW 2012) * Retailers are falling into administration with the total number of retailers in England and wales increasing by 11% from 165 to 183 in 2011. (Past Disso, SJG) * Web retailing will have taken it’s toll by the year 2020, leaving highstreets and malls vacant of many of todays recognised brands. (Tanya Reynolds, Creative Director. Proportion London. VM 2020). * recorded 32 stores closing per day in the UK. (Sibun, 2012). RMR) * On Monday, clothes chain Jane Norman became the latest high street casualty of the recession, as it moved into administration. And as the internet threatens to guzzle up the profits of remaining high street retailers, perhaps it may take an outstanding shopping experience to stir droves of people from their chairs and into the shops. Various phrases have been used over the years to describe the enhancing of shopping stores: “retailtainment” and “entertailment” are obvious word plays. http://www. independent. co. uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/retailtainment-the-future-of-shopping-2303942. tml * Failures expected to decline, but will rise in retail sector * The number of business failures will fall over the coming three years but remain above pre-recession levels, according to a forecast by the accounting firm BDO. * It estimates that the number of failures will fall to 20,536 a year by 2015, from a peak of 26,196 in 2009. BDO identifies a squeeze on the disposable income of UK households as one of the primary reasons for the slow recovery and concludes that retail and personal services companies are likely to be the most severely affected. BDO predicts that the number of retail sector failures will rise by 12. 5 per cent to 3,104 in 2011 from 2,759 in 2010. It expects the personal services sector, such as hair, beauty and consumer goods repairs, to see an increase in failures of 2. 8 per cent to 1,288 in 2011, up from 1,252 in 2010. * http://www. independent. co. uk/news/business/news/failures-expected-to-decline-but-will-rise-in-retail-sector-2364863. html * The store will remain your key asset, use it to showcase your brand and generate maximum profitability by addressing issues at  individual store level (RW 2012, P. 58) * 3. 3UK brands vs US brands financials (The need for UK stores) MP 2011 * adapt to reap the major benefits from localising their product offers. (RW 2012) * Again, this is a trend where UK retailers can be proud of what they’ve achieved, as their private-label developments are among the finest in the world, and in some cases give manufacturers a run for their money (RW 2012) (RW 2012) * Retailers with international appeal are asking themselves how much of a return they’ll get from opening one more store in the UK compared with one abroad, especially one in the fast-growing emerging markets. RW 2012) * I would say not, we are a global brand on a global stage, we see ourselves as retail leaders, but would be influenced by any great retail idea not just from the USA. (Selfridges interview) * 1. Yes, Ted Baker is portrayed as a very British brand. Ted Baker is still considered “out of the ordinary” with strong UK roots. (Ted Baker Interview) * 3. 4upper middle market retailers. (lack of british brands in this sector) * The fact is that the major supermarkets and malls have delivered highly convenient, needs-based retailing, which serves today’s consumers well. MP, 2011). * Woolworths is a prime example. They simply hadn’t realised how to talk to the new value-conscious consumer and allowed the pound shops, many of which are seeing astronomic levels of growth, to pile in and steal their market share. A fact made all the more painful when one knows that Woolworths was in fact the original pound shop offering all its merchandise at a fixed single price. (MP, 2011). * Primarily this is 16-25 year olds. They are faced with much greater higher education costs than previous generations and rising unemployment.
And also C2DE socioeconomic groups; those on benefits, the elderly and low-paid have been at the sharp end of rising inflation during 2011. Even if, as many predict, inflation slows during 2012 the damage to their spending power has already been done. (RW 2012) * And the director of a premium fashion retailer is mindful that her competition is likely to grow, so it’s not a time for the business to scrimp on what makes it attractive to customers, as the new competition sure won’t be. “The international brands that are coming in from the US, France and Australia have got quite a bit of money to invest,” she says. RW 2012) * Unemployment stands at 8. 3%. Both the rate and level of youth unemployment stands at the highest it has ever been, with 22% – or around one million – economically active 16 to 25 year olds not in employment. (RW 2012) * Clothes buying still a priority for under-25s – 61% of under-25s – a key market for clothing retailers – still include clothing and footwear within their top five biggest areas of expenditure, with fashion the ultimate spending priority for 15-19-year-olds, according to Mintel’s Youth Fashion – UK – December 2011 report. Mintel 2012, clothing retailing). * Under-25s demographic group shrinking – The number of under-25s – a key market for clothing retailers – is contracting as a percentage of the population. The UK’s ageing population means the number of 15-19-year-olds is predicted to shrink by 7. 1% between 2012 and 2017, while the number of 20-24-year-olds is expected to fall to 5. 3% during the same period. (Mintel 2012, clothing

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