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Market Commentary

​Weekly Retail & Leisure News - 18 August, 2014

​July retail sales show marginal decline, as House of Fraser introduces new beacon technology

​According to the British Retail Consortium, July’s UK retail sales were down 0.3% on a LFL basis from July 2013. Food sales were down again, while non-food continued its recovery, driven by online which grew 14.9% yoy. Over the last three months, food showed a decline of 1.4%, whereas non-food grew by 3.4%, in line with its twelve-month average of 3.8%. The challenging conditions for the UK’s grocers are mainly being driven by structural change, with demand relatively flat and capacity increasing.

In light of this, Asda’s results released this week are relatively positive. The supermarket reported an acceleration in quarterly sales growth, with LFLs up 0.5% in the 10 weeks to June 30, achieved by sharp price positioning and online growth of over 20%. Asda is outperforming the market, and in particular the other four big supermarkets; however, as opportunities for gaining market share in grocery become increasingly limited, its non-food business may hold the key to future growth.

In technology news, House of Fraser is rolling out beacon technology in mannequins at its click-and-collect store in Aberdeen. The retailer is trialling VMBeacon technology, enabling it to send offers to shoppers’ mobile phones as they walk past the mannequins. Beacon technology uses low energy bluetooth to communicate with shoppers’ phones, and works in a similar way to wi-fi. This is a great example of retailer innovation, and highlights the importance of implementing new technologies to attract customers and remain competitive in an increasingly virtual world (see JLL’s Redefining Retail Places for further detail).

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