Internet & mobile sales predictions to 2022

The Economist Intelligence Unit has predicted that at least a third of UK retail sales will take place online by 2022. The report, “Retail 2022″, also suggests that mobile commerce will by then be a mainstream way of making purchases.

Report author Jon Copestake, chief retail analyst at the EIU, said: “The opportunities for retail over the next decade and beyond are enormous. But where the future markets will reside and the way in which we will buy goods will change dramatically. Retailers will need to evolve to adapt to this new landscape.”

A multichannel approach to shopping will also mean the rise and proliferation of the convenience store: “By 2022, bargain-driven technologies such as Groupon and mysupermarket will have merged and expanded into sophisticated sites tailoring and personalising the best offers for consumers.” This will create a polarised market where consumers buy staples from discounters and save up for luxury purchases.

What now for Comet?

With Comet now in administration Chairman John Clare must be regretting his belief that the key to success for the business lay in low prices. Not only that, the company had a tragic lack of focus on online and multichannel retail.

Jon Copestake of the Economist Intelligence Unit said: “Not only has Comet faced deflationary pressures thanks to stiff competition and cheaper production costs but core audio visual products are being undermined by combined platforms on smartphones and tablet computers. The fact that OpCapita obtained the chain for a nominal £2 last year highlights the challenges faced by specialist electronics retailers.”

Record losses at Panasonic

Panasonic has reported record losses of £5.4bn for the second quarter of 2012. In its consumer electrical division sales decreased in the six months to September by 24% to £5.5bn, down from £7.1bn in 2011 – attributed to a sharp fall in sales of flat-panel TVs, Blu-ray recorders and digital cameras. Reuters has reported Kazuhiro Tsugo, Panasonic’s president, as saying the company will move away from TV and consumer electronics. It is performing better in appliances: sales of (mostly) refrigerators and washing machines increased 2% to £6.3bn. Losses have been partly attributed to the European financial crisis, the slowdown of Asian economic expansion and 2012 company restructuring costs.

DPD investing for online boom

Parcel firm DPD has announced it will invest £175m in additional capacity to meet growth in online retail – creating 1,500 full-time jobs in the process. It will build a new £100m parcel sorting hub in the East Midlands and refurbish two other hubs. The company has experienced unprecedented growth since it launched its Predict service in March 2010 – utilising the latest GPS tracking technology to provide customers with a one-hour delivery window.

BRC calls for freeze on business rates

Retailers face £175 million business rates bill if next year’s increase is based on September’s RPI according to a warning from the British Retail Consortium. The Office for National Statistics has announced that that the RPI fell to 2.6% in September – down from 2.9% in August. The BRC has warned that the retail industry already pays 28% of all business rates and argues that the rates have already increased “significantly” with cumulative increases in both 2011 and 2012 amounting to more than £0.5 billion.

It is asking the government to freeze business rates in 2013, to honour its commitment to review the mechanism for setting rates increases, and to introduce a fairer, more sustainable formula for the future based on the annual average of the Consumer Price Index.

BRC director Stephen Robertson said: “The retail industry is the UK’s biggest private sector employer, providing crucial first jobs to a million 16-24 -year-olds. Expecting retailers to bear a huge rates hike for the third year running can only lead to fewer chances of work, less investment and more troubled high streets…The government must recognise that retail has already contributed its fair share to the Exchequer and freeze business rates in 2013. It also needs to reform the mechanism for setting future increases so that it is fairer and less volatile.”

Hughes employee is ERT winner

Peter Harvey, a Norwich-based employee of Cromwell customer Hughes Electrical, has won Salesperson of the Year – Independents in the ERT Award sponsored by Samsung. All the Award winners were announced on October 22nd at a lunchtime ceremony at the Grand Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden.

e-gift cards launched by Comet

Comet, in collaboration with digital gifting and incentives company CashStar, has introduced e-gift card programme to enable customers to create personalised digital gifts and send them via mobile devices, e-mail or Facebook.

David Stone, CEO of CashStar, said: “Consumers’ lives have gone digital and mobile and so have their gift cards… The Christmas period is critical and profit margins have been tighter than ever for the retail industry. CashStar is launching its innovative e-gift technology in the UK just in time for retailers to get up and running before the busiest months of the year. Comet is the first of many retailers in the UK that will offer the benefits of e-gift cards to consumers.”

Websites breach Distance Selling Regulations

The Office of Fair Trading has called on retailers to fully comply with consumer protection law on their websites. A study revealed potential breaches of the Distance Selling Regulations and other consumer protection laws. Many websites providing information on cancellation appear to impose unreasonable restrictions on customers’ rights to a refund (e.g. the rule requiring products to be in the original packaging or in the original condition). A large percentage of retail websites provide a web contact form rather than an email contact address, as required by the E-Commerce Regulations, and an admittedly tiny minority provide no electronic contact details at all.

The OFT said traders that do not make amendments to comply with the law risk formal enforcement action from the OFT or Local Trading Standards Services.For guidance see the OFT Distance Selling Hub and the YouTube video, ‘Buying online: know your consumer rights’.

Tec7 to close in House of Fraser

Despite selling top-notch brands including Apple, Bose and Sony in “contemporary surroundings”, department store chain House of Fraser is to close all its Tec7 electrical departments by the end of January 2013 because the struggling economy and aggressive price promotions have made them unprofitable.

Join the Christmas Shopping Crawls initiative

Over 100 towns have shown interest in organising “Christmas Shopping Crawls” to boost retail footfall in independent stores after a “How to create a Christmas Shopping Crawl” webinar run by The Association of Town Centre Management. The Independent Christmas campaign runs from 12th November to Christmas Day. Retailers can access a range of support materials including window posters and maps. Towns can also access downloadable guides “How to create a Christmas shopping crawl” and “How to make the most of participating in a Christmas shopping crawl”. See www.indiechristmas.co.uk or e-mail champion@retailchampion.co.uk.