Judith Ramshaw, Centre Manager, at The Royal Quays Outlet Centre in North Shields, shares her thoughts on the outlook for the retail sector.
Despite the recession and shoppers keeping a tight rein on their purse strings, a recent survey hasdelivered some good news for the retail sector.
A forecast for 2013 by The Centre for Retail Research predicts that real sales will rise by around 1.6%, in monetary terms 3.9% (as long as inflation remains low) and estimates that the main beneficiaries will be clothing, DIY, pharmacy and department stores.
There is no doubt that the UK recession has had a huge impact on consumer spending. Over the last four years, we have witnessed the demise of many well known names in what has become an unstable retail market. So this piece of positive crystal-ball gazing is very welcome.
According to the Centre for Retail Research, in 2011, thirty one major retailers went bust and currently there are more than 40,000 empty shops in the UK’s towns and cities.
Gone are the days when retailers could rely on the impulse buyer, as consumers are becoming more discerning and less likely to make frivolous purchases.
Today’s shopper is looking for specific items and real value for money and as a result, shops have had to examine pricing closely in a bid to entice customers through the door.
Speaking from my own retail experience, those operating in the sector must work harder than ever to understand the needs of their customers and look at innovative ways to build loyalty. There are many great examples of retailers who do just that and who are reaping the rewards.
Let’s hope that 2013 brings its own set of positives for the retail sector!