Consumers using more tablets

A YouGov study from designer discount site BrandAlley has shown the rise in multichannel shopping habits. Some 63% of shoppers now search for purchases online after 6pm and some 15% of those surveyed used a tablet device – often while watching TV.

BrandAlley chief executive Rob Feldmann said: “Shopping via mobile devices is the biggest growth opportunity in online retail today and we expect it to account for 25% of all sales next year. With 4G being rolled out in the UK and an even greater influx of Tablet devices to the market, this figure could well exceed our estimations as online becomes a true dominant channel for retail.”

Consumer confidence rises

A survey by GFK NOP has shown that consumer confidence rose to an 18-month high in November as consumers became more optimistic about the general economic situation and their personal finances. The headline index rose to -22 in November from -30 in October, which is the highest reading since May 2011.

Nick Moon, managing director of social research at GFK, said: “people are increasingly optimistic about how the economy will perform over the next twelve months. This could be because consumers now think things can’t get any worse or it may be for more positive reasons, but either way it is good news as we look ahead to 2013… The direction things head in the New Year will be crucial in determining whether this is a short-term spike or the start of a long-term improvement in people’s spending habits. When we saw a significant improvement like this in May 2011 the surge ebbed away over the following few months as the country returned to recession. Hopefully this spike is built on firmer foundations.”

“Shoplifting for Christmas”

The ‘Shoplifting for Christmas 2012’ report by Professor Joshua Bamfield of the Centre for Retail Research predicts that retailers could lose up to £1 billion over the Christmas period from shoplifting (£522 million), dishonest employees (£431 million) and vendor or distribution losses (£47 million). This represents a 3.4% increase over the same period last year. The product categories most likely to be stolen are: alcohol, women’s clothing and fashion accessories, toys, perfumes / toiletries, smart phones, DVDs, game consoles, food, Christmas decorations, electrical goods, and jewellery.

17th December will be “Cyber Monday”

Early reports are that so-called “Cyber Monday” yesterday was a satisfyingly busy day for online sales. However, it appears that 17th December will be the busiest pre-Christmas shopping day and take over the “Cyber Monday” title.

Over the coming two weeks the IMRG expects £4.6bn to be spent online.

Sony, Panasonic & Sharp are “junk status”

Global ratings agency Fitch has downgraded electricals giants Sony, Panasonic and Sharp to “speculative grade with negative outlook” (effectively, junk status).This means that while it believes they can service debts for now, they could default on them at some stage.

The BBC reported that Fitch’s downgrade of Panasonic was due to its “weakened competitiveness in its core businesses, particularly in TVs and panels, as well as weak cash generation from operations”. Panasonic reported in October that it was on course for another £6.3bn net loss for the year to March 2013. Sony also posted its seventh consecutive quarterly net loss in the three months to September 2012. Sharp’s rating was cut after its shares hit their lowest value in three decades.

Fitch’s head of Asian corporate research Matt Jamieson told the Financial Times that providing bosses focused on cash-generating areas, such as Panasonic’s domestic appliances and Sony’s camera division, and made steps to cut back unprofitable business such as TVs for Sony and personal computers for Panasonic, there may not be further downgrades.

Linsar call on CIH for consumer day

TV manufacturer Linsar has called on CIH to consider adding a consumer day to Euronics’s trade-only show which is next being held on 14th-15th April 2013 at the NEC. Linsar director Barry Kick has suggested the cost would be minimal, that it would enhance Euronics’s public image and capitalise on the TV campaign for the Euronics brand. It would also fit in very well with the launch of CIH’s consumer magazine “At Home with Euronics”.

Amdea push for appliance replacement

White goods trade association Amdea is urging the Government to encourage consumers to replace their old appliances and use energy-saving features. Apparently, replacing an old fridge-freezer with a modern appliance can have the same benefits as installing double-glazing as it would use 50% of the power. Douglas Herbison, chief executive of Amdea, said: “By working together with the Government, we can have a greater impact on energy use in the home. Including major appliances in the Green Deal or a similar scheme has the potential to be an all-round winner. As well as the savings on household bills, and greenhouse gas emissions, this could encourage millions of consumers to upgrade their kitchens – providing considerable work for skilled tradesmen and for young people just starting out on their careers.”

Amdea has just completed a pilot study with the University of Surrey, examining how appliances are used in the home. Their report, the Efficient Household Appliances Study, is downloadable on: http://www.amdea.org.uk/our-purpose/campaigns/new-publications/

Push for energy labelling

John Lewis and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will introduce a product-labelling trial in 2013 that shows the lifetime running costs of household appliances – starting with washing machines, washer dryers and tumble dryers. Norwegian trials have shown that when consumers see product running costs as well as initial cost they are more likely to buy energy efficient models. It is estimated that the more efficient models could cost up to £900 less over a lifetime.

A UK Government spokesman said: “Although there are existing European labelling requirements on energy use, these are reported in kWh per year, rather than in estimated monetary terms for the life of the product… Indeed, consumers in many purchasing situations focus on the initial cost as opposed to the lifetime running costs. Better information would mean better consumer decisions.”

The move is part of a package of measures announced by the Government that could cut energy use by 11% by 2020. Around £40m will be given to five End Use Energy Demand Centres to research how to change consumer and business behaviour. Greg Barker, the Energy and Climate Change Minister, said the savings in energy efficiency could save the UK 196TWh in 2020, equivalent to output from 22 power stations.

Sharp bail-out by Intel and Qualcomm?

Sharp is in discussions with Intel and chip-maker Qualcomm Inc. The US technology firms could jointly invest ¥30 billion (£233 million) in the firm. Sharp’s shares jumped by 11% on the news but brokers believe this uplift will be short-lived because of the company’s $13.8 billion (£8.7bn) debt and intense competition from rivals such as Samsung and LG. Sharp has already received substantial loans from two Japanese banks, which are expected to keep it afloat until March 2014.

Co-op offers free time slot delivery

The Co-operative Group has launched a free 60 minute time slot delivery service for customers shopping for electrical products. This is the result of a survey they conducted of over 3,000 online shoppers – over 90% of whom said no delivery slot was their “main online annoyance” and half objected to paying for home delivery.

Deputy group chief executive Martyn Wates commented: “Most consumers do not have the luxury to be in whenever the on-line retailer dictates and so end up paying unnecessary extra charges for the convenience of a defined day of delivery.”