4G to give massive boost to retail

Ebay is predicting that the arrival of universal 4G in the UK could boost the retail economy by around £1.8 billion over a year. It is referring to a study undertaken by retail analysts Conlumino, which reveals that the major frustrations for UK mobile shoppers are speed (50.3%) and reliability (49.6%). Universal 4G will help to overcome both these problems.

Olivier Ropars, senior director of m-commerce for Ebay Europe, said: “It won’t just turbo-charge the way we shop. It will truly give us the ability to shop anytime, anywhere. That means an extra £1.8 billion of consumer spending up for grabs. Retailers must act now and think about the virtual shop window, to turn this huge opportunity into an exciting reality.”

Gillmans opens 1st LG “Shop-in-Shop”

Cromwell customer Gillmans has launched the first ever LG shop-in-shop concept in Gloucester, showcasing laundry, dishwashing and refrigeration appliances in an LG branded space within the store. LG’s Direct Drive technology is being demonstrated with a cutaway appliance and a video.

Owner and managing director Robert Gillman says: “We are delighted to have been chosen by LG for the first LG shop-in-shop. As a family-run business, we always pride ourselves on giving great value, first-class service with great brands. LG fits into this concept perfectly.”

TV Trends

Latest research from GfK reports that since 2004, 60 million flat panel TV sets have been sold in the UK. However, sales are falling year-on-year. The 43+ sector is the only part of the market to see growth, increasing 10% in volume in 2012 over 2011.

The trend towards large screen sets is boosting the uptake of premium features, with more than a third of the TV market value in 2012 coming from 3D TV sets.

Mark Hamilton, GfK account manager, says: “Looking at December 2012 sales, the flat TV market surpassed 60 million units over its lifetime. With the 2012 onslaught of large-screen activities including the European Championships and the Olympics, we have seen strong continued uptake of 3D and smart TV features. This alone accounted for 35% and 44% respectively of the total market value in 2012. Though the inclusion of these features as standard in most high-end sets means that a number of these will be passively purchased, this does not necessarily reflect the number of consumers actually using these features.”

Argos closes TV shopping channel

Argos is to close its TV shopping channel which it launched in June 2011 on BSkyB. A spokesperson said: “As Argos works towards delivering its ambition to become a digital retail leader, the business has to focus its resources on priority programmes to deliver the key milestones announced to the City in October 2012. Through the process, the future of the Argos TV trials has been assessed and the proposal is to cease operations.”

Argos owner Home Retail Group announced last October that it would be closing or relocating 75 stores over the next five years as it transforms itself from a catalogue business to a leading digital retailer. Home Retail Group aims to generate £4.5 billion of sales for Argos by 2018 and plans to invest £100 million a year in the business over the next three years.

Stores must “dovetail” with online presence

A report from The Local Data Company (LDC) shows how online shopping is helping the high street. The shop vacancy rate fell to 14.2% in 2012 from 14.3% in 2011. Matthew Hopkinson, LDC director, says: “Online is driving growth for a majority of retailers and so 2013 is all about the supporting roles that shops will have as ‘customer experience’ centres and showrooms, as much as transactions through their till.” However, retailers still need to ‘right size’ their retail estates.

Dr Dacko, asssociate professor of marketing and strategic management at Warwick Business School, says differentiation is key and that retailers have to be smart to make sure their shops not only offer something unique but dovetails with their online presence: “There is so much online competition that stores need to differentiate themselves to survive. On the one hand they need to be seamlessly integrated with their online offerings. And at the same time they need to offer something different in their stores. It is too easy for consumers to make price comparisons these days, so it makes sense that stores look to make themselves different.They can do that by emphasising local needs, which could be the bakery or butchers using locally-sourced food. Or they can offer a unique ambience, a unique shopping experience, Wi-Fi, high quality products or service. They could offer exceptional value like the 99p stores or click and collect.”

New MD for Panasonic

Andrew Denham will take over as Panasonic managing director from Keith Evans on 1st April. He is currently European brand strategy director.

Speaking of his new role, Mr Denham said: “It’s an exciting time at Panasonic. We are expanding our products and services every year and are committed to enhancing the lives of our customers far beyond the living room into all areas of the home and beyond… Through our business customers, we’re also enhancing people’s experiences in the areas of automotive, retail, avionics and energy. I look forward to building our UK market presence, working closely with all our partners.”

Consumers keep taking the tablets

Research by GfK shows that sales of tablet computers grew by 267% in 2012. More media tablets were sold in December 2012 than notebook computers in the whole of Q4 2012, driven by substantial price falls. Sales of protective cases also grew substantially.

GfK account manager Robyn Tovey said: “It seems likely media tablet sales will continue to grow in 2013 as the availability of lower priced devices has made buying a tablet a more viable purchase for many consumers. Likewise, tablet cases could be expected to be the key selling product of the luggage market this year.”

Future High Streets Forum launched

Following the Portas Review, the government has launched the Future High Streets Forum. The Forum will be co-chaired by Mark Prisk, Local Growth minister, and Alex Gourlay, chief executive of the health & beauty division Of Alliance Boots. Members include representatives from the British Retail Consortium, the British Property Federation, the British Council of Shopping Centres, the Association of Town & City Management, the Association of Convenience Stores, and John Lewis.

Mark Prisk said: “It is clear that our high streets will need to change to prosper. There is already great work being done across the country to revitalise the town centres, but it needs to spread further faster. The Future High Streets Forum will help us do that.”

Encouraging signs in February

Retail sales had a real boost in February – on a like-for-like basis, they were up 2.7% from February 2012. On a total basis, sales were up 4.4%, the fastest growth rate since February 2010.

The British Retail Consortium’s Director General, Helen Dickinson, said: “There are certainly highly-welcome signs here of gradual improvement and customers feeling a bit more positive. February saw growth across all parts of retailing, with big-ticket goods and items for the home recovering particularly well, possibly reflecting better conditions in the housing market.”

She went on to call for the Budget this month to support consumers and retailers to ensure these figures are not just a short-lived phenomenon.

Retail/FMCG trends for 2013

The Retail Bulletin and ResearchFarm have produced a report predicting Retail/FMCG trends for 2013. The bad news is that the economy in 2013 looks little better than 2012. However, there is good potential for smart TVs, mobile technology, and Big Data. It believes that the supply chain will be a major issue – with key topics including load sharing, load utilisation and the move to same day delivery. “Immediacy” will be a big trend – with retailers trying to remove any barriers from the shopping process and speed up conversions and check outs through AR capabilities, QR codes and direct CTAs, as well as same day delivery to move closer to a ‘one click shopping’ experience. To obtain the free 60-page report you just need to complete an online form via: http://www.researchfarm.co.uk/predictions2013rb.php.