18 Apr UK Market Highlights – April 2018
Every month B.D.C. gives you the key retail information you should not have missed. Key trends, innovation, major players, startups, market figures – discover in 60 seconds the latest key retail news.
New store openings on the UK’s high streets have hit the lowest levels in nearly a decade as retailers start feeling the impact of brexit as well as the tremendous growth of Ecommerce. According to the Local Data Company, new store openings dropped 10% to 4083 in 2017 compared to a year prior, equaling an average of 11 per day.
March has seen an uncharacteristic growth of online sales of non-food products. That is one of the findings of the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. Last month, online sales of non-food products increased 7.9%. A year ago, the growth rate was 6.6%. The report points out as well: the 3-month average showed a growth rate of 6.6%, while for the last 12 months, the growth rate came in at 7.8%. The online penetration rate increased from 20.6% in March 2017 to 22.0% in March 2018.
In March, total UK retail sales grew by 1.4% on a like-for-like basis from March 2017. On a total basis, sales rose 2.3% in March, against a decline of 0.2% in March 2017. The growth averages for the 3 months and 12 months prior were 1.8% and 1.9% respectively. Finally, it’s worth saying that the sales figures may have been positively distorted by the timing of Easter.
Mothercare has reported growing online sales which now account for 49% of all transactions in the 4th quarter of its financial year – but falling in-store footfall and sales. The group total UK sales fell by 5.6% in the quarter and 4.8% in the full year in tandem with floor space, which fell by 10.7% over both periods. However, online sales rose by 2.1% in the 4th quarter and 1.2% in the year. How to explain those figures? This strong online growth came via the website (+7.2% Q4/+2.8% FY) and promotional activities has been set up to stimulate customer demand.
Asos has launched a new feature allowing users to see what clothes look like on different body types. The feature was first exposed by a fan on Twitter, but the retailer has now confirmed it on their own account, announcing that it would soon be rolled out across its app. Its roll out of such features is working for Asos, which retained its crown as the UK’s most visited clothing website, despite John Lewis making huge gains to come in at number two.
Shop Direct is adopting technologies to help it improve both security and the customer experience. As a result, the group whose brands include Littlewoods.com and Very.co.uk, is using a voice security and authentication solution from Pindrop, and SAS’ contextual analysis solution to improve the customer experience. They use SAS tools to analyse customer’s verbatim feedback and detect when customer behaviour changes in order to take quick actions that strengthen the relationship.
Voice shopping will grow to £28.2 bn-plus in 2022, up from £1.4 bn today across the UK and US. RBC Capital Markets recently predicted that Amazon would generate between £6 and £7bn in sales from Alexa devices – including device sales themselves and voice shopping – by the year 2020. Today in the U.K., 10% of households have a smart speaker and 16% use it to regularly make purchases.