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British Retail Consortium

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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.”

Shopping

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.”

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British Retail Consortium

UK retail sales fall for first time in six years

Latest statistics from the British Retail Consortium have revealed that in February UK retail sales dipped by 0.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis with February 2016.

Over the three-months to February, non-food retail sales in the UK declined 0.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 0.2% on a total basis.

This is the first three-month decline since November 2011, dragging the 12-month total average growth to 0.6 per cent, the lowest since May 2012.

Meanwhile, over the three-months to February, online sales of non-food products grew 7.7 per cent while in-store sales declined 2.4 per cent on a total basis and 2.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

The BRC-KPMG report was published this morning (March 7th).

“Overall growth was subdued in February, driven by a continuation of the slowdown in non-food sales. This was marginally offset by slightly stronger growth in food sales,” said Helen Dickenson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium. “There was some negative distortion created by the later timing of Mother’s Day this year, which meant that some categories, notably women’s accessories and health and beauty, didn’t benefit from the build-up of gift purchases as they did last year. But looking beyond this distortion, the persistent weak sales performance of several non-food categories points to an undeniable trend of cautious spending on non- essential items.

“Tougher times are expected ahead. The impact of inflation on consumer spending will add further intensity to an already fiercely competitive environment in which the ability to adapt and innovate will be key to survival. Looking to the Budget this week, we hope to see a commitment from Government to lay a path to a truly sustainable business rates system that will give retailers the flexibility needed to invest and support their local communities.”

KPMG’s UK head of retail Paul Martin added: “Evidently February was yet another challenging month for the majority of retailers, with like-for-like sales down 0.4 per cent on last year. Food sales however, continued to buck the general trend by remaining in the black. That said, with inflation starting to have an impact on retail performance, it is clear that consumer confidence is showing signs of deteriorating.

“School half-term holidays are likely to have contributed to the stronger performance in children’s toy sales during the month. Likewise, furniture and home textile sales will have benefited from parents using the holiday as an opportunity to spruce up the home.

“Retailers will be paying close attention to the upcoming Spring Budget in the hope of seeing some measures to ease the pressure being placed on margins. For some bricks and mortar retailers, a hike in business rates may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

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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.” 

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Retail to take biggest hit with new NLW introduction…

According to the British Retail Consortium, retail will become the most affected industry with the introduction of the new National Living Wage (NLW) which came into force on April 1, and will have to find an additional £3 billion annually by 2020 to foot the staff wage bill.

An estimated 300,000 UK workers will now benefit from the NLW and, according to figures supplied by the Low Pay Commission (LPC), retail has beaten hospitality to become the biggest minimum wage employer – with over 511,000 staff over the age of 16 and 23 per cent of all retail workers receiving the £7.20 per hour rate.

The LPC also found that the cleaning industry’s wage bill will increase by 3.5 per cent by 2020, 2 per cent higher than the retail prediction of 1.5 per cent, however the Commission agrees that retail will be greatly affected due to the ‘size’ of the industry.

In addition, major retail chains such as Starbucks and N Brown Group plc– which owns Jacamo, Simply Be and JD Williams – have all pledged to extend the National Living Wage offering to all employees under the age of 25, a decision welcomed by the TUC and workers’rights activists, but could be a contributor to the high industry wage bill