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High Street

PURPLE TUESDAY: High Street businesses ‘losing millions’ by shunning disabled consumers

UK businesses – including High Street brands – are losing millions of pounds of revenue every year by turning their backs on disabled consumers.

That’s according to a poll of people who consider themselves to be disabled, conducted by Purple, the disability organisation behind Purple Tuesday.

The survey found that more than half of respondents are struggling to make purchases of a product/service due to their disability. Disabled young people (aged 16-24) fare the worst – more than three-quarters of them say they have found it difficult to buy goods online or in person due to their disability on more than one occasion.

Four in five disabled customers say businesses could do more to be accessible and more than half (56%) agreed that improving staff understanding about different disabilities would encourage them to spend their disposable income, estimated to be £249 billion a year.

Respondents state that retail is the most accessible business to purchase from, followed by banking and hospitality/leisure/restaurants.

The research comes as businesses and organisations prepare for ‘Purple Tuesday’ on 12 November, a day which celebrates UK companies that are improving the customer experience for disabled shoppers. Major names taking part include Sainsbury’s and Intu.

Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of Purple, the disability organisation behind Purple Tuesday, said: “While many UK businesses and organisations are stepping up to the mark and making the changes needed to improve disabled customers’ experiences, far too many are not.

“This is a huge mistake, not least because by turning their backs on disabled shoppers, they are losing out on millions of pounds of revenue every year.

“It should simply not be the case that one in two disabled people struggle to make purchases online or in person. Small changes can make a big difference to the customer experience; we want to help organisations have the confidence to improve their services for disabled people.”

Disabled consumers told pollsters that inaccessible and unusable locations, poor customer service and a lack of understanding about disabilities were the main reasons they struggled to spend their money. 

Over 1 in 5 said that hiring more disabled people would make them more likely to make a purchase and some stated that “wider aisles” or “lighter doors” would have the same effect. The findings support previous research, which shows that less than 10% of organisations have a dedicated strategy for targeting disabled customers.

The potential of the purple pound is clear – disabled people say they spend on average £163 on retail per month, £117 on banking, £98 on travel, £69 on insurance, £78 on hospitality (such as at restaurants or on leisure activities) and £19 on gym or health activities. 

Organisations that register for Purple Tuesday will benefit from free resources from Purple on topics such as website accessibility and customer service training. In exchange, Purple asks that business make a minimum of one commitment to improve the customer experience for disabled people. 

For more information on Purple Tuesday, please visit www.purpletuesday.org.uk.

Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito… from Pixabay

High-Street

The future of UK retail – Brexit and beyond

By Tejas Dave, Founder and CEO of eBusiness Guru and Avasam

It’s tough out there for retailers right now. Brexit is causing all kinds of concerns – just this week we heard of Domino’s spending £7 million to stockpile ingredients.

Whether you’re a leaver or a remainer, just the uncertainty is causing havoc with spending. In July, average retail sales to July rose by just 0.5% – and that’s a new record low.

Brexit aside, it’s still tough. UK spending growth is at a low, and companies are entering administration regularly – more than we expected possible. Even household names we might expect to be doing well are demanding reductions on their rent. Even Primark, which continues to thrive, is demanding rent reductions – though this is in response to those with CVAs. 

Many media outlets are decrying eCommerce for the decline of the high street. eCommerce businesses can provide lower prices due to lower overheads, and greater convenience, with next-day home delivery in many cases. But eCommerce has been growing for over twenty years – it’s hardly a surprise that was sprung on the high street overnight. Not only that, some retailers continue to grow – Primark makes huge profits without even having an eCommerce presence. And consumers are in fact still spending – eCommerce sales are expected to exceed £184 billion in the UK in 2019.

So what’s the solution? With greater overheads, without cutting margins razor thin, how can the UK high street survive? Even without facing these difficulties, retailers needed to look to their future, by taking their cue from eCommerce. Going forward, eCommerce isn’t the enemy – and in fact, could be the saviour of the UK high street.

Taking a blended, omnichannel approach will help customers remain engaged with retailers. Even Amazon is working to create offline locations – just look at Amazon Go! We’re not saying that all retailers should try to emulate their business model – clearly that isn’t possible. But by increasing offerings and services, bricks and mortar retailers can remain popular with customers.

These partnerships can be mutually beneficial between online and offline retailers. Where high street locations aren’t economically viable for businesses, creating partnerships can enhance the customer experience and profits all round.

Consider a small high street retailer who partners with an eCommerce company that aligns with their brand values. They might keep very limited stock for certain items, with more stock available to be DropShipped directly to customer homes. The customer sees the item and decides to buy it. The store then places the order and takes payment. Their eCommerce partner sends the order the same day, to arrive the next day.

The customer benefits from the arrangement because:  

·       They’ve made sure they want the product

·       They can speak to an advisor

·       They know their order was placed successfully

·       They don’t have to put their card details into a website

·       They know which day their order will be delivered

·       They don’t need to be confident with using technology

This arrangement is great for customers who prefer to shop offline. Both retailers benefit – and chances are, the customer bought another item while they were in-store too. Even if they didn’t it’s likely with a positive experience, they’ll return to make further purchases.

If the retail location can process returns too, they see increased footfall and in-store sales. Customers receive an enhanced experience from both brands, and the eCommerce company receives more sales, faster returns and reduced costs.

Further application of technology can provide bricks and mortar retailers with more options to increase footfall. Click and collect sales are expected to account for 61.2% of spend by 2022. Whether that’s through partnerships or through lockers in-store, that’s a lot of potential to work with.

Partnering with eCommerce businesses isn’t the only way retailers with outlets can diversify their offerings though. Consumers are becoming accustomed to ordering a wide range of products in one place. High street retailers can capitalise on this. A reciprocal arrangement might provide an EPOS point showing stock a partner across town has. The point might have various options – for click and collect, home delivery and different payment options.

There isn’t a magic solution to save the high street. But the government is aware, and is looking at changing the planning system to help. Brexit will happen, one way or another. But with the right application of technology, and thinking creatively, retailers can adapt and secure their growth into the future.

About the Author

Tejas Dave, Founder and CEO of eBusiness Guru and Avasam, has been helping eCommerce businesses worldwide since 2010. Evasam is a platform that allows wholesalers and sellers to collaborate. Tejas is revolutionising the shipping industry and creating a new level of financial stability with the aim of creating 5,000+ jobs within the UK. Tejas is using technology and automation to provide solutions to e commerce challenges by removing the limitations that are currently placed on what and where people can sell.

Summer retail footfall declines, says BRC

Uk retail footfall declined by 2.9% in June, compared to the same point last year when it declined by 0.9%.

According to the latest British Retail Consortium & Springboard data, on a three-month basis footfall decreased by 2.4%. The six and twelve–month averages are at -1.3% and -1.7% respectively.

Meanwhile, High Street footfall declined by 4.5%, following from the increase of 0.1% in June last year. The three-month average decline is 3.5%.

Retail Park footfall increased by 0.1%, following from June 2018 when footfall decreased by 0.4%. The three-month average growth is 0.5%.

Shopping Centre footfall declined by 2.4%, following June 2018’s decline of 3.4%. The three-month average decline was 2.7%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief-Executive at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Poor footfall this June led to a significant fall in the sales figures for the month. High streets were worst hit by the relatively poor June weather, with shopping centres also performing badly, however, retail parks managed to buck the trend. Last year’s World Cup and glorious sunshine set a high bar, which 2019’s slow consumer spending and Brexit uncertainty failed to live up to.

“High streets and shopping centres across the country need to invest in improving their consumer experience if they wish to see these footfall numbers reverse. Unfortunately, high business rates, as well as a raft of other public policy costs, mean there is little left over to spend on these improvements. If the Government wants to see more investment on the high street then they must reform the broken business rates system and give firms the means to make the necessary improvements.”

Diane Wehrle, Springboard Marketing and Insights Director, said: “The drop in footfall in June of -2.9% is disappointing; it was much more severe than the -0.9% drop in June last year and takes the rolling three month average to -2.4% versus -1.5% in 2018.

“However, given the exceptional and ongoing disruptive political and economic period we are facing coupled with unprecedented structural changes in the retail sector, we might actually expect consumer activity to have taken an even greater hit.  In reality, the drop in footfall of -1.4% for the year to date is still an improvement on the drop of -2.1% over the same period last year, so in context footfall performance has shown more resilience over the year to date than expected.

“It was clearly high streets and shopping centres that bore the brunt of consumers railing back on their shopping trips, whilst retail parks maintained their customer base.  However, whilst footfall in high streets across the UK dropped by -4.5% in June, the continuing and growing demand from consumers for experience meant that in regional cities – which by virtue of the sheer breadth and depth of their offer means they can deliver on experience – footfall was far more resilient, declining only very marginally by -0.6%. 

“And the same rule of ‘experience delivering results’ also applies for shopping centres.  Whilst footfall in shopping centres across the UK declined by -2.4% in June, in the largest centres of more than half a million sq ft the drop was just -0.5%, and only -0.1% in those largest centres with a strong dining offer.  So it is clear that consumer demand is polarised between convenience and accessibility provided so effectively by retail parks, and consumers’ craving for experience, driving them towards larger retail destinations.”

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Revealed: The High Street shops Brits want to see

The perfect high street is home to a Post Office, green grocer, butcher – and boozer.

Britain’s traditional main shopping thorough-fares are facing stiff competition from the boom in online shopping and the emergence of huge out-of-town malls.

But the majority of us still have a perception of what the High Street should be able to provide, with a decent bakery, a good DIY shop, and independent clothes outlet all making the list.

An energy provider, restaurant and barber were also hailed as a must, along with a supermarket and shoe shop.

However, just eight per cent of the 2,000 adults polled currently do the bulk of their shopping locally, preferring to drive or use public transport to top up at larger shops and supermarkets.

And while eight in 10 do make the effort to use their local High Street, many think it lacks the outlets they require to get everything they need from one trip.

Three quarters said they were worried about the decline of their high street, and 32 per cent said the retail outlets which are left, such as betting shops and beauticians, aren’t
what is needed.

Researchers also delved into the reasons why the local high street is being neglected by so many – and found one in three avoid it amid a worry goods are generally ‘more expensive’.

Bill Bullen, CEO of smart energy provider Utilita, which carried out the research to celebrate the opening of its second hub in Southampton, said: “As this study shows, there is a real desire for the high street to remain a fruitful and central part of any town or city; Brits like the idea of having one place where they can access all their products and services.

“However, not enough people are shopping on the high street and this means many businesses are finding it unsustainable and are therefore closing down.

“If people want to see their local shopping area do well, they’ll need to invest a little more time and money in the businesses currently there.”

The OnePoll.com study also found other shops adults are keen to see locally include record shops, vegan shops, and jewellers.

Furthermore the average adult visits their local shopping area twice a week, but spends just £23 in total in the process.

One in three aren’t impressed with the shops, while expensive parking puts off three in 10 shoppers.

Limited choice is a factor for four in 10 and busy Brits often find it more convenient to shop online.

However, given the opportunity, shoppers would prefer to buy something from a ‘real person’ than via the internet, and four in five love to converse with shop workers when purchasing something in-store.

Bullen added: “Our high streets are important economic hubs, the small and micro businesses – thousands of which we supply – on them forming the backbone of the UK economy.

“But they are more than this; they are the beating heart of communities across the nation.

“It’s why we want to support high streets by launching a national roll-out of Utilita energy hubs following a successful trial venture in Gosport, Hants, in 2018.

“Our Southampton hub launched just days ago, and similar stores will open in Edinburgh, Derby and Bradford – to name but a few – over the months to come.

“This will have long-term benefit for us and the communities we serve, in addition to giving customers the face-to-face service they crave as Utilita brings energy back to the nation’s high streets – in every sense.”

SHOPS BRITS WANT ON THE HIGH STREET
1. Greengrocers
2. Independent clothes shops
3. Baker
4. Butchers
5. Handyman / DIY
6. Record shop
7. Shoe shop
8. Chain clothes shops
9. Post Office
10. Luxury clothes shops
11. Newsagents
12. Gluten free / Vegan shops
13. Restaurants
14. Pubs
15. Energy / utility providers
16. Supermarket
17. Jewellers
18. Coffee shops
19. Barbers
20. Charity shops

UK’s most resilient town centres revealed

Cambridge as been ranked as the UK’s most resilient retail location outside of London, followed by Bristol and Guildford.

The data has been published as part of FM provider Cushman & Wakefield’s annual UK Town Centres – What’s Next? report, which analyses the performance of 250 town centres since the start of the financial crisis.

The data is based on 24 economic, demographic and retail property metrics, and highlights the evolving role of the UK’s town centres. 

In 2019, the report has found a clear correlation between ‘shopper mission’ and town centre vitality.

For example, as consumers become more mobile and less reliant on physical retail shops, expectations are changing. Cushman & Wakefield says these missions generally fall into one of three categories: 

  • large destination, or experience orientated visits, 
  • purpose shopping that is focused on specific purchases, and 
  • community-based convenience trips. 

The report asserts that retail locations that do not align with at least one of these key missions will need to repurpose to remain relevant.

In the 2019 rankings, Bristol’s has leaped forward, rising from 9th to 2nd to sit behind Cambridge, which kept the top spot it claimed in 2018. The Top is rounded out by Guildford, Exeter and Oxford, respectively.

“The towns within our top 10 are navigating the fast pace of change best and offering visitors a variety of reasons to keep coming back,” said Amy Gibson, Retail Analyst at Cushman & Wakefield.

Image by Steven Iodice from Pixabay

Latest BRC data paints grim picture for the High Street

Retail has shown its biggest sales decline on record covering the four weeks from April 28th – May 25th, 2019.

Sales decreased by three percent compared to the same period last year, which had then increased by 2.8 percent from 2017, making it the steepest like-for-like decline since December 2008.

Over the three-months to May, Non-Food retail sales in the UK decreased by 1.1 percent both on a like-for-like and on a total basis. This is below the 12-month total average decrease of 0.4% percent, while food sales increased by 0.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis and 1.9 percent on a total basis.

All records exclude Easter distortions, caused by Easter falling in different months in subsequent years.

Discussing the findings, Helen Dickinson, chief executive, British retail Consortium, said: “With the biggest decline in retail sales on record, the risk of further job losses and store closures will only increase. While May 2018 offered almost unbroken sunshine, topped off by the run up to the World Cup and the marriage of Meghan and Harry, May 2019 delivered political and economic uncertainty. Food sales dropped for the first time since June 2016, with further declines in clothing, footwear and outdoor goods.

“With retail conditions the toughest they have been for a decade, politicians must act to support the successful reinvention of our high streets and local communities. Business rates remain a barrier, preventing many retailers from investing in their physical space. We have a broken tax system, which sees retailers paying vast sums of money regardless of whether they make a penny at the till, and yet the Government is failing to act. The legislation is falling behind the technological revolution.”

“April may have provided retailers with some light reprieve thanks to Easter, but May’s staggering fall of 3% like-for-like is a stark reminder of the industry’s ongoing issues, which for many require urgent attention, said Paul Martin, head of retail, KPMG.

“We are of course comparing this month’s growth against a stellar May in 2018, but even the 3-month average – which softens the monthly volatility – demonstrates that achieving growth in retail remains a real struggle.

“The bank holiday weekends have given rise to the added interest in furniture and homewares, as shoppers set about making home improvements. However, the weather did little to convince fashion-minded shoppers to refresh their seasonal wardrobes.

“The extremely low growth online is real cause for concern, especially with almost a third of all non-food sales today being made online. This trend has continued to manifest itself over the last year and requires real focus from the retail community.”

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

24-hour service and self-check out key in-store experiences for Brits

61 per cent of Brits are worried that the High Street will disappear completely over the next ten years due to the increasing number go big-name retail store closures.

Research by finance specialists KIS Finance, which surveyed 1,000 British consumers, revealed:

• Food and beverage, value and fashion brands are predicted to be the biggest victims of the high street due to online competition

• Convenience is key factor that affects our shopping habits – if local high streets had free parking and easy accessibility, consumers would be more likely to shop in-store

• Northern cities and Scotland have been worst hit by store closures so far, but people anticipate many more to come

“It is quite likely that there will be a continuation, if not an increase of the negative headlines in retail,” said James Child, retail analyst at EG.

“The raft of CVAs and administrations in the sector has culminated in an expected 1,600 store closures across the UK, with over 18 million square foot of prime retail real estate vacated. When we break down the events of 2018 there are some trends which appear to be continuing into 2019 – due to fragile trading conditions and economic uncertainty.”

Child concluded: “There are certain sub-sectors that will face more pressure than others. The fallout from department stores will continue at pace, following the problems with House of Fraser last year, and now with the future of Debenhams at risk. Food and beverage, value and fashion brands will come under more strain as over stretched markets begin to weed out weaker offers as retail Darwinism bites.”

When asked what would tempt them back to the great British high street, the top answers from Brits were:

• More staff to ensure that the experience is quicker (41 per cent)

• Clearer stock check in store (34 per cent)

• 24-hour service so that you can shop at any time (27 per cent)

• Self-checkout service to avoid queues (26 per cent)

After asking consumers what they think the high street will look like in ten years, it seems that consumers are worried that independent stores won’t exist. The list below runs from most likely to least likely:

  1. Restaurants

2. Coffee shops

3. Second-hand shops

4. Bars

5. Fast food restaurants

6. Retails chains e.g. department stores

7. Clubs

8. Cinemas

9. Banks 

10. Travel agents

11. Independent retailers

As part of its research, KIS mapped out which cities had been hit the hardest by the major store closures of the last year, including those announced already in 2019 such as M&S and Patisserie Valerie.

This revealed northern cities such as Leeds and Glasgow had been hit far harder than their southern counterparts. The top cities impacted were:

  1. Leeds

2. Glasgow

3. Aberdeen

4. Bradford

5. Cardiff

6. Doncaster

7. Leicester

8. Manchester

Discussing the findings, Holly Andrews, manning director at KIS Finance said: “With store closures flooding our newsfeeds recently, we were interested to find out what the future holds for the high street and how consumers’ shopping habits might affect retailers’ footfall. It is obvious from our research that people do still like going into store to shop, but it just isn’t as accessible as online shopping is. 

“To save the high street many retailers need to ensure that they are thinking innovatively about how to draw customers in with clearer in-store stock checks, more staff and extended hours during busy periods. 

“The reason why so many retailers are struggling with their stores is because consumer shopping habits are changing and the high street needs to change with it, creating a more community led atmosphere with more accessibility and variety for everyone.”

GUEST BLOG: Could Google help our High Streets?

By Mediaworks

Time does not seem to be the best healer when it comes to the plight of UK High Streets, with major retail losses making headlines in many national newspapers.

In 2018, Toys R Us and Maplin stores were vacated, and trade ceased. Even the infamous discount stores did not survive unscathed, as Poundworld closed its doors for the last time.  

More than 28 multi store retailers went into liquidation in 2018, and these ill-fated stores have set a precedent. Music retailer HMV seem to have set the tone for 2019, being the first to announce that they were facing financial difficulties earlier this year. 

Elsewhere, digital sales in retail have more than tripled in the last 10 years, with online spending equating to 18% of all sales in the sector. Stock availability and an extensive range of delivery options are partly responsible for the surge in e-shoppers, with supportive user journey’s and simplified checkouts sealing the online splurge for many. 

Some pessimistic experts have predicted that High Streets will be a thing of the past by 2030, so we must act imminently to save our beloved shops. But could retail find an unsuspecting ally in the form of search engine giant, Google? 

Here’s how Google could help to revive our humble high streets:

Omni-Channel Experience for the High Street

Implementing the omni-channel nature of e-commerce into retail stores seems near impossible, but a London start up, Near St, are curating digital displays of stock from shops and making them available online. It will enable shoppers to visit the store online prior to them taking to the street, saving time and avoiding any wasted journeys. 

A Digital Town

Many businesses across the nation are already embracing Google, using their ‘Google My Business’ tool to create a profile for themselves with useful information such as a contact number, opening hours and address. Almost half of all Google searches last year had local intent, showing the necessity for the service. 

Back to the Future

The conventional shopping trip is still a big revenue contributor, with 82% of sales taking place offline. The task at hand for the high street is to optimise customer experience, making it feel as convenient and straight-forward as online shopping. Companies such as Marks & Spencer and EE are already acknowledging the shift in value of the in-store experience, while technologies such as AR and VR are becoming increasingly commonplace, with Google’s own product ‘Google Cardboard’ pioneering the integration of simulated reality in retail. 

The UK High Street is not oblivious to its own losses, as major retailers are constantly evolving their online marketing strategies and adding digital elements to their in-store services.

How will you save your brand?

GUEST BLOG: Bricks, mortar and digitisation on the High Street

The high street is dying, right?  The huge surge in online competition for bricks and mortar stores has undoubtedly had a huge impact, with many physical traders going to the wall.  In this piece, Propsellers – which facilitates commercial propertyexchange across the UK – takes a look at ways to embrace tech to make physical stores potentially more viable…

Utilising the benefits of Email receipts

In a survey conducted by YouGov for email marketing software providers, Bronto Software, it was found that 44 per cent of consumers would like to receive digital copies of receipts whenever they made a purchase in-store. However, just a third of the survey’s respondents said that they were given this opportunity.

When you consider that 64 per cent of those involved in the survey would be open to receiving additional marketing messages, 34 per cent product promotions and 31 per cent information about loyalty programmes too, you should really consider making them a part of your business’ offering. 

Your email receipts can include a message asking if customers would like to opt-in to your company’s marketing emails to stay up-to-date, as well as a bounce-back offer for completing a survey online — something that will appeal to consumers and also allow you to keep track of their actions.

It’s a good idea to include details on your email receipt about how someone can contact your purchase after they have made a purchase too. Do this by pointing them to the places online where they can ask someone at your company a question, leave a review and make an enquiry in the unfortunate event they need to make a return. Links to your social media channels will encourage happy customers to remain engaged with your brand.

On top of all of this, email receipts have the added benefit of putting your brand in a positive light as it showcases that you’re thinking about the environment by trying to save paper. 

Going interactive with your retail displays is a must …

For decades, retailers have had to focus on giving static retail displays unique designs and bold colours in order to grab the attention of customers — whether that is through window displays or when promoting the must-have products of the time when someone is browsing inside a shop. Interactive window displays have now emerged though and are naturally eye-catching with their hi-tech designs and excellent use of lighting effects. 

Research by retail website, I Am Omnichannel, underlines the benefits of enhancing your stores with some interactive retail displays. According to its study, 70 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men see shopping as a form of entertainment. What’s more, 70 per cent of customers say that digital signage is entertaining. 

Conversion rates at your stores could also witness a significant boost with an interactive retail display, as 30 per cent of customers said that they end up making a purchase after engaging with this technology. With that amount of potential extra custom, the cost for getting these displays installed could quickly be reimbursed.

If you don’t offer Click & Collect – you should!

Click & Collect, which allows customers to buy items online and then pick them up at one of the retailer’s physical stores, is a brilliant blend of eCommerce and high-street shopping. According to research by Macfarlane Packaging, it became the third most popular online service in the UK during 2017 behind just online banking and online shopping in general.

There are so many reasons why you should consider introducing Click & Collect services at your company — with benefits being offered to customers and retailers alike.

From a consumer point of view, Click & Collect grants them more control with their orders as they can decide where they want their items to be delivered too. In fact, delivery company, Shutl, conducted a survey which found that 95 per cent of respondents would consider shopping with another retailer should their first choice not be able to provide a suitable delivery option for their needs. 

Customers will also be given the opportunity to get around delivery costs and also get reassurance that an item that they are keen to own can still be purchased even if it’s sold out at their local stores.

One of the main benefits when it comes to retailers is that Click & Collect has the potential to increase sales. This is because customers who visit a physical store to pick up their order could be inclined to buy even more items as they work their way to a shop’s collection desk. Retail Assist found this to be a case at fashion retailer, New Look, as it discovered 25 per cent of Click & Collect customers make additional purchases in their stores. You can capitalise on this further by putting your most eye-catching items and best deals along the path that customers will take from a store’s entrance to the collection desk.

Sources:

https://marketingland.com/why-sending-receipts-via-email-is-a-good-idea-25423

https://www.shopify.com/retail/6-ways-retailers-can-leverage-email-receipts

https://pointofsale.com/On-Managing/Four-Advantages-Of-Emailing-Receipts.html

http://www.bizreport.com/2015/11/e-receipts-under-used-as-additional-marketing-vehicle.html

https://www.macfarlanepackaging.com/blog/embracing-benefits-click-collect/http://www.sky-technology.eu/en/blog/article/item/5-benefits-of-interactive-retail-displays-on-customer-experience.html

UK retail split over bricks & mortar property strategy

The UK retail sector is split in a three way divide over what to do with bricks and mortar property, according to a report from law firm Foot Anstey.

Despite news of store closures and Company Voluntary Agreements, a surprising two thirds of senior retail sector leaders plan to either invest in new property or develop their property portfolio. Just one third plan to close stores.

And of that one third looking to downsize, just 12% are blaming the rise of eCommerce.

The findings are detailed in the Foot Anstey Retail Report 2018: Property based on an in-depth survey of senior leaders in the UK retail sector.

Foot Anstey’s Head of Retail, Patrick Howarth, said: “It’s fair to say we were not expecting this result to come back. Anyone following retail news would be certain the story would be of restructure.

“That two thirds are looking to grow their portfolio or develop it is perhaps a reflection of something we spotted in the last report – retailers believe shopper experience is the most important factor, even more than price.

“Perhaps most importantly, there’s a reassuring resilience to the sector. It clearly believes in remaining a profitable, physical presence in our lives.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 42% find break clauses and subletting legal obstacles to reshaping a portfolio
  • Robots in customer service got the biggest negative response for any tech innovation
  • Almost half think delivery drones will become significant

This is the second Foot Anstey Retail Report 2018. The first, People, was issued in June. The third, Brand will be issued later in the year.

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