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Retail Update - March 2015


Posted At: 27 March 2015 00:38 AM
Related Categories: Retail, Retailers


There have been no reported administrations since our last update, and a number of new retailers proposing to enter the UK market; showing increased confidence in the UK market. This is evidenced by retail sales increasing by more than expected in February as prices dropped to their lowest level for almost 20 years.

The seemingly never-ending price wars between the ‘Big Four’ grocers and the discounters has pushed grocery inflation to its lowest level since records began in 2006, marking the 18th successive fall to -1.6%. The figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 1 March 2015 reveal that shoppers have saved £400m during the period as a result of lower general inflation and competitive prices, particularly on everyday staple items. 

Online continues on its journey to become an even bigger player in our shopping lives, with sales forecast to grow by 16.2% in the UK in 2015. Online sales are expected to account for 15.2% of all consumer retail sales in the UK in 2015, according to the international study conducted by the Centre for Retail Research. It reveals that online retailers in the UK can expect total online sales set to reach £52.25bn, vs £44.97bn in 2014. 

It therefore comes as no surprise that the latest strategy to reinvigorate the UK’s high streets focuses around digital, with The Digital High Street Advisory Board proposing to implement four significant digital initiatives in a bid to transform high streets across the UK by 2020. The four objectives form part of the Digital High Street 2020 report, which sets out how town centres, and in particular small independent retailers, can benefit from integrating digital technologies into their high streets and “compete more favourably” with national and international etailers.

This transformation to digital high streets will now be much easier to achieve following the relaxation of laws around planning permission that will allow all retailers to offer click-and-collect services in store from next month. From April 15, retailers will no longer have to apply for planning permission, which costs £195 and requires store bosses to complete reams of paperwork. 

DPD’s PickUp click and collect initiative
is another shining example of a way retailers can embrace click and collect. Due to launch in the summer, online shoppers will be able to buy a product from one retailer and pick up from another. The scheme is intended to drive footfall to stores by providing convenient collection points. DPD is seeking to build a network of 2,500 stores across big retailers in the UK.

And finally, in other news, a study by the Royal Society for Public Health has named Preston as the UK’s “unhealthiest High Street” according to the types of businesses found there. Bookmakers, loan shops, tanning salons and fast-food outlets were viewed as having a "negative impact" on public health, while leisure centres and health services were deemed positive. In contrast, Shrewsbury was named as having the "healthiest" High Street.

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