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Retail search growth driven by smartphones

The latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Google points to a significant spike in retail-related online searches in 2Q17, driven by smartphone users.

In the UK, retail search volumes on smartphones increased 26% in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter a year ago.

For all devices across the UK, search volumes maintained year-on-year growth of 7% in the second quarter of 2017.

Interestingly, beauty was the most searched for sector by overseas consumers on mobile devices, reporting growth of 42% in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Apparel remained a popular sector for overseas consumers on mobile devices, increasing 38% in the second quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Estonia continued to demonstrate the strongest appetite for UK retailers, reporting a 77% growth on mobile devices in Q2 2017 compared with the same quarter a year ago.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: “The growth of UK retail searches online in the second quarter of 2017 remains unchanged on the previous year, although smartphones are increasingly becoming the dominant device for online browsing and therefore the main contributor to this growth. The increase in mobile search volumes over this period is consistent with the upward trend in online non-food sales growth.

“Beauty brands in particular continue to attract interest from overseas as well as UK consumers, which put the category firmly at the top of the growth rankings. It would appear that this could have translated to some extent into product sales, as health and beauty products ranked second highest in online sector performance over the three-month period.”

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UK retail sales slump in May

A rise of 2.7% in inflation, the highest level in nearly four years, has had a dramatic effect on retail with sales suffering a 0.4% drop through the month of May.

The figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show that sales rose 0.2% in May, against a 1.4% in May 2016, the lowest since January, excluding Easter Bank Holiday distortions.

The report also details how Food sales increased 3.2% on a like-for-like basis over the three months to May, 4.3% on a total basis – the highest three-month growth since 2012 rising 3.2% in the quarter to May.

Over the same period, Non-Food retail sales in the UK decreased 0.3% on a like-for-like basis and increased 0.1% on a total basis, making it the worst performance recorded since may 2011.

Online sales of Non-Food products grew 7.0%, while in-store sales declined 1.8% on a Total basis and 2.3% on a like-for-like basis, below the like-for-like 12 month average decline of 2.0%.

Commenting on the figures, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive British Retail Consortium, said: “After the pick-up in sales over Easter, consumer spending slowed again in May resulting in almost flat growth on the previous year. Underneath the headlines, there’s continued variation in the performance of food versus non-food products, as sales performance of the two become increasingly polarised.

“Food sales, albeit positively distorted by inflation, continue to see annual growth, while in non-food categories which are predominantly capturing discretionary spending, retailers find themselves having to compete even harder.
“Overall, May’s sales slowdown is indicative of a longer term trend of a decline in consumer spending power. As household budgets become increasingly squeezed by inflation, predominantly in the non-retail part of the consumer basket, it’s vital that the next Government helps retailers keep prices low for ordinary shoppers. This means, as well as securing a tariff-free trade deal with the EU, negotiating frictionless customs arrangements; providing certainty for EU colleagues working in the UK; and ensuring the continuity of existing EU legislation as it transfers into UK law.”

Paul Martin, UK head of retail added:“After the surge in retail sales last month – the by-product of this year’s relatively late Easter – retailers have been brought back down to earth with a thump. Like-for-like retail sales contracted in May, which is likely to represent a more accurate depiction of the state of UK retail currently.
“The impact of inflationary pressures on the nation’s purse continues to play out in this month’s figures, with shoppers evidently spending more on food and drink than on non-food purchases. With inflation continuing to rise and wage growth stagnating, consumers are starting to feel the pinch – although the highly competitive nature of the UK grocery market continues to play out in the consumer’s favour.

“Many retailers, particularly fashion stores, will be poised and ready to make the most of the upcoming summer, so hopefully the weather will play fair. An increased focus on managing costs will dominate the retail agenda. More imminently though, eyes will be firmly placed on the outcome of the General Election, with close attention being paid to the implications it might have on the industry.”

www.brc.org.uk

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April retail footfall boosted by Easter shopping

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Springboard Footfall & Vacancies Monitor revealed a 1.6% growth in footfall in April compared to 2016, above the average three-month growth of 0.7% and the fastest growth month in shopper numbers for three years.

The news comes after a difficult March trading period, which saw retail sales drop 1.0% from March 2016.

The April figures mark the first positive quarter since May 2014, with consumer spending dropping in the 10 months since Britain voted for Brexit and the average consumer feeling the impacts of rising inflation. However, the April figure is likely to be distorted due to the late timing of Easter this year.

“As expected, the Easter holidays provided the welcome boost to retail sales, which goes some way to making up for the disappointing start to the year,” Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive said.

“The inclusion of the holidays in this period will have distorted this figure but even looking beyond this, the picture over the last quarter has been largely positive.”

Paul Lewis, senior director of marketing at Voucher Codes and RetailMeNot urged retailers to take a smart approach to counter strenuous trading conditions for consumers and make the most of the bank holiday at the end of the month by ensuring digital and physical work together to increase overall sales figures.

“Last year, VoucherCodes.co.uk, part of RetailMeNot discovered that mobile devices unlocked £200 million sales in-store, therefore as we get closer to the May half term and Summer holidays, retailers could be expecting a busy shopping weekend on the high street,” commented Lewis.

“Shopping is no longer divided into the plain and simple clicks vs bricks – the lines are blurred now more than ever and consumers expect to switch between the two experiences seamlessly.

“Shoppers want to investigate competitor prices, check stock location and read consumer reviews all whilst standing right there within the store.”

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BRC: Shopper visits through March 2017 a “reassuring sign for retailers”

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and retail intelligence specialists Springboard have released figures covering the five weeks 26th February – 1st April, showing retail footfall in March grew 1.3% on the previous year, the fastest growth since 2014.

The figure was above the three-month average of -0.2%, although March 2016 included Easter Sunday when many retailers were closed, while the 2017 figure does not and effectively adds one more day’s footfall to the period.

The high street saw the greatest percentage of footfall growth: 1.7%, followed by retail parks at 1.4% and shopping centres at 0.2%. The steepest decline in footfall occurred in Northern Ireland, which fell by 3.7%, followed by the South West at 2.3%.

“Shopper visits increased to all retail destinations in March, resulting in the fastest annual growth in footfall for three years,” commented Helen Dickinson, OBE, chief executive BRC. “This is partly owed to the exclusion of Easter Sunday from the period, which therefore benefits from an additional shopping day. But even looking beyond the distortion, the positive growth across most of the country is a reassuring sign for retailers.

“The high street continues to outperform shopping centres and retail parks, for the second consecutive month. Disappointingly though, this didn’t translate into retail sales, which were down in March on the previous year. Now that the Easter holidays have arrived, the challenge for retailers will be to attract this greater number of high street visitors into their stores.”

Diane Wehrle, Marketing and insights director, Springboard, added: “March definitely provided a break in the clouds, with the +1.3% rise in footfall breaking a six-month consecutive decline and the +0.2% increase in footfall in shopping centres being the first since January 2016. Whilst some of the +1.3% may have been a consequence of the loss of a trading day last year due to an early Easter, the impact of this shift should not be overstated as it will have been mitigated by increased trade on the other days over the Easter trading period.

“Indeed, if anything it is more evidence of the continuing structural shift in the use of retail destinations for leisure and hospitality trips. Virtually all of the increase in footfall in March was derived from the post 5pm period while footfall during the trading hours of 9am to 5pm dropped –by just -0.5% in high streets, but much more significantly, by -7.1%, in shopping centres. Indeed, the worsening of consumer confidence and inflation from last year is likely to be constraining shoppers’ willingness to spend on retail goods. This all lends further evidence to the fact that retail is no longer the sole driver of footfall, with a strong leisure/hospitality offer being a critical element to secure retail success.”

www.brc.org.uk

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BRC: Footfall declines but shoppers still spending…

According to the British Retail Consortium‘s (BRC) latest ‘BRC-Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor’ for the five weeks between August 28 and October 1, total footfall for the month of September fell by 0.9 per cent compared to the previous 12 months; a return to the decline in footfall seen before the 0.1 per cent increase experienced in August.

The research found that footfall in retail park locations was also ‘broadly flat’ in September, worse than the 0.4 per cent rise in August, and footfall in shopping centres fell 2.5 per cent in September, a further fall from the 1.9 per cent drop in August and is below the three-month average of -2.1 per cent.

Chief executive at BRC, Helen Dickinson OBE said: “Total footfall was fractionally down this month with almost one per cent fewer people heading out to shopping locations across the UK. At the same time as both footfall and shop prices have fallen year-on-year, retail spending grew in September by 1.3 per cent. This is a function of the changing face of retail and the hard work and innovation of British retail businesses who are responding brilliantly to technological advances and changing consumer habits.”