Olympic verdict

According to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor the Olympics dicouraged consumer spending in August. UK retail sales fell by 0.4% on a like-for-like basis, compared to the same time last year. Total sales were up by 1.6%, compared to a 1.5% rise in August 2011. Internet sales fared better, though, with 4.8% growth on last year. August is hardly a great month for retail in any year, but the Olympics discouraged shopping more than usual, with women’s clothing, furniture, flooring and home related items worst hit.

Dyson hits £1 billion

Dyson has announced that its turnover hit £1 billion in 2011 and that it made record profits of £306 million. That’s over 30% more profit than in 2010.

Massive investment in R&D, amounting to £1.3m every week in 2011, has certainly paid off. A Dyson vacuum cleaner was sold in the UK every 30 seconds last year and the company could not keep pace with demand for the DC35 Digital Slim cordless cleaner. As a result of this success the company will recruit 300 new staff across the business and is launching in China in November.

Awful August

August, Olympics month, produced the worst growth this year in retail sales. Like-for-like sales were 0.4% down on the same month a year ago, according to the Retail Sales Monitor produced by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and accountancy firm KPMG. “There’s no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall,” said BRC director-general Stephen Robertson. Online sales were also hit. “August’s online sales growth was a third the rate of the previous month and the lowest since we started this measure in October 2008,” Mr Robertson said. However, he added: “Fundamentally, online retailing is still strong and this is almost certainly just an interlude in the trend of rapid expansion, but online outperformed overall retailing by the narrowest margin we’ve recorded.”

Homing in on electricals, the monitor found that large-screen TVs sold well in the first week of the Olympics and new computing and electronics products, tablets, laptops and technology accessories had a strong month, as did cooking appliances.

Freesat launches Smart Guide

Free-to-view satellite TV service Freesat has launched the smart on-screen TV guide that will be featured in next-generation Freesat+ boxes due later this month. When connected to home broadband, the service, Free Time, offers viewers the option to go backwards through the TV guide to watch shows they have missed. It features a Now and Next view of what is currently on, while a showcase section offers recommendations on programmes to watch that night, on demand or during the coming week. Recordings are said to be easier to make and episodes will be automatically filed into series.

Freesat claims the service has been developed using widely-adopted European open standards for hybrid TV including elements of OIPF, HbbTV and HTML 5 browser technology. Freesat managing director Emma Scott said: “TV is a simple pleasure that technology can make even better, not more complicated. Our new boxes with Free Time give satellite viewers everything they get with Freesat today and so much more in a single, simple and easy to use on-screen guide.”

Onward march of mobile shopping

According to a recent study by IMRG Capgemini, the percentage of UK online sales made through a mobile device could reach to 1 in 5 (20%) by Christmas 2012, with the percentage of site visits through the channel at around 1 in 3 (30%). The percentage of sales through mobile devices increased to 11.6% in Q2 2012, from 8.2% in Q1 2012. Site visits through mobile devices also rose significantly, reaching 21.1% from 16.4% for the same period.

Hughes “Winning Indie” in Norwich

Cromwell customer Hughes Electrical has scored 10 out of 10 to make it the winning Indie in Norwich in ERT’s “Take a Town” survey. For the full review see: http://ertonline.co.uk/Default.aspx.LocID-05nnew3ig.RefLocID-05n02u.Lang-EN.htm

e-crime threat grows

The British Retail Consortium’s first e-crime study, which has been published this week, shows that e-crime is the biggest emerging threat to the UK retail sector. In proportion to the total value of sales, e-crime is twice as costly as overall retail crime.

It estimates that e-crime cost retailers a total of £205.4 million in 2011-12. This means e-crime represented 0.75% of the £28 billion of online retail sales in 2011. The most expensive type of e-crime for retailers was personal identification-related frauds (£20 million of losses). Card fraud was in second place (£15 million losses), and refund frauds were responsible for losses of £1.2 million. Phishing, the setting up of bogus websites, is also a problem for UK retailers and, shockingly, retailers also lost £111.6 million as honest customers abandoned purchases because of cumbersome security measures.

The UK has the biggest internet spend per-capita of any nation and 11% of global internet retail sales, so e-crime needs to be taken very seriously.

Jamie Oliver & Philips collaboration

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has co-designed a range of home appliances with Philips which is being launched on Thursday at the IFA technology show in Berlin. In a statement, he said: “I really wanted to create useful, powerful and reliable products with a focus on simplicity, brilliant performance and beautiful design – which I think we’ve achieved.” The new range will be available next month.

Insolvencies fall

Experian has released its insolvency data which shows that fewer firms went to the wall in July. According to their latest Business Insolvency Index, insolvencies in the UK have dropped by 9.5% year-on-year in July, with 1,776 companies failing against 1,962 companies a year earlier. And up in Scotland, the insolvency rate is now the lowest in two years (over 25% fewer businesses failed last month compared to 2011). Of course, some sectors are faring better than others. Broadly ‘non-food retail’ is doing well: the rate of insolvencies is down to 0.1% from 0.2% last year. The exception is the car industry where insolvencies have increased by a shocking 41.7%. The number crunchers at Experian have also found another interesting trend. It turns out that supersized firms (those employing more than 500 staff) and the smallest companies (with between 11 and 25 employees) are the most recession-proof. The ‘squeezed middle’ is back – and this time it means business.

Don’t miss out on the ERT Awards

If you think you qualify for an Award in this year’s ERT Awards, don’t miss out. The deadline for entries is August 31st. Retailer entries can be submitted online and have been simplified this year. The categories up for grabs are:

- Consumer Appliance Retailer of the Year
- Consumer Electronics Retailer of the Year
- Consumer Electronics Showroom of the Year
- Domestic Appliances Showroom of the Year
- Euronics Retailer of the Year

And of course you can also vote for your favourite suppliers! More info at www.ertonline.co.uk