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Market Commentary

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Weekly Retail & Leisure News - 06 November, 2017

Next returns to growth

Next has reported total sales growth of 1.3% in Q3, the first positive results for the retailer in over a year. Disappointing Retail sales (-7.7%) were offset by strong growth in Directory sales (+13.2%). While broadly encouraging, these results are too early to signal a lasting turnaround for the high street bellwether - Christmas and Q4 will clearly be pivotal. Ongoing investment in its stores is certainly a positive move for Next, which is focussing on creating leisure destinations by adding experiential elements such as prosecco bars and restaurants. With minimal growth forecast in physical retail over the next few years, retailers are increasingly adapting their strategies to capitalise on this trend for consumer spend shifting to experience.

Morrisons also announced positive LFL sales this week, with 2.5% growth in Q3, its eighth consecutive quarter of LFL growth. The UK's fourth largest grocer continues to set the standard for LFL performance amongst the Big 4, driven by a consistently expanding customer base. The continued drive to improve quality and affordability has paid off for Morrisons, as it and the other major grocers strive to fight off competition from the discounters.

The disruptive forces shaking up the grocery market show no sign of abating, however. News from Waitrose that Britons are increasingly shifting their weekly shopping to smaller, daily purchases was followed by an announcement from Unilever and Mars, who have signed up to a new digital shopping service to sell their brands direct to consumers. This shift towards brands selling direct to consumers has gathered pace recently, as businesses such as Dyson, New Balance, Lego and Smeg have all opened standalone stores.

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