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Retailers need to shape their strategy

Phil Mullis

01 November 2017

Halloween is over for another year, but the retail industry bite remains – and it is more important than ever that retailers are adapting and improving strategies to keep the wolf from the door.

Less in our pockets

The recent retail sales statistics from the ONS painted a less than pretty picture. Quantity bought was down by 0.8% and inflation outstripping wage growth was just one of the factors affecting dampening sales.

Worryingly, indications show that further horrors could lie ahead in October’s retail sales, despite an estimated £481m spent on Halloween in 2017. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has reported retail sales dropping at the fastest rate since the height of the recession in 2009 – an unwelcome trend for the hard-pressed retailer leading into the Golden Quarter.

With the rate of inflation outstripping wage growth consumers disposable income reduces. This has been supported by the Asda income tracker, which said consumers’ disposable income was down 0.5% year on year in 10 out of 12 UK regions during September.

Furthermore, the Asda income tracker showed that the average level of discretionary spend per household had been on the decline for at least five of the last six months. The only two regions of the UK to report a rise in disposable income was London and Yorkshire.

Shaping your retail strategy

It means that as discretionary spend is squeezed, retailers need to adapt and improve strategies to ensure they continue to get their cut of consumer spend. Cutting cloth maybe necessary, but investing wisely is key – saving a pound today may help the bottom line but not help generate extra profits ahead.

Retailers should consider their investment in both staff training and technology, which could give them the edge over their competitors as well as improving productivity. Personalisation, really knowing your customer inside and out, is a major selling point but it takes time and money.  Furthermore, retailers need to be aware that their personalisation strategy does not fall foul of forthcoming GDPR legislation on the use of personal data.

If you run a retail business and you want to review your strategy or you are interested in investing in staff training and technology to help your business run more smoothly, contact the Retail and Wholesale team at Wilkins Kennedy to see how we can help.

About Phil Mullis

Phil Mullis

Phil joined the firm in 2008, became a Partner in 2012 and heads up the Retail and Wholesale sector team for Wilkins Kennedy. Phil advises companies, predominately from retail, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and food brokerage companies. He is passionate about helping the small guy win out against the big guy with bottomless marketing budgets. It is fair to say that most people see Phil as an unnatural accountant – it’s not about the numbers for him, it’s about working with the people and helping them grow and realise the potential of their business.

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