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Market Commentary

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Weekly Retail & Leisure News - 02​​ October, 2017​

UK consumers remain defiant

Consumer confidence rose in September, up one point to -9, according to the GfK Index, as consumers remain defiant despite macro and micro economic headwinds. Consumers continue to spend, albeit there are growing concerns about the extent to which it is being fuelled by debt. Several retailers have reported positive sales in the last week; LFLs at Moss Bros rose 2.8% in the six months to July 29, while total group revenue increased 4.3% and online rose 14.5%; and total sales at Hotel Chocolat jumped 12% in the year to July 2. H&M has also reported a 5% rise in sales across its group in the quarter to August 31, and a 7% increase in the first nine months of its business year. H&M highlighted that customers’ behaviour and expectations are changing, with a greater share of sales taking place online. Figures from etailer Boohoo confirm the general shift to online within fashion, as its UK sales more than doubled in the six months to August 31.

However, select retailers continue to open physical stores in the right locations. Missguided has opened a pop-up store for its new meanswear brand Mennace at Boxpark, Shoreditch, as well as a separate ecommerce site for its new brand. Polish cosmetics retailer Inglot will open its first standalone store outside of London at Intu’s Eldon Square in Newcastle, while Australian accessories brand Colette by Colette Hayman is set to debut in the UK with a flagship store at Westfield Stratford City, and a second store to follow in Manchester’s Arndale Centre. New lettings have also been confirmed for Landsec’s The Zig Zag Building and One New Change in London, with Joe & the Juice, Nespresso, Molton Brown and The Body Shop amongst retailers and F&B operators taking new space.

There was further evidence this week of the role that innovation, experience and service can play in engaging and retaining customers. The strong sales recorded by Hotel Chocolat were helped by the opening of 12 new shops and 15 in-store cafes, while customer experience events such as ‘chocolate lock-ins’ and a new truffle-making facility helped boost margin and profits. And Ikea is the latest retailer to move into providing services to complement its product offering. Ikea has acquired freelance labour firm TaskRabbit, in a response to a shift to digital shopping and an attempt to develop the business in a more flexible way. Customers will be able to connect with tradespeople through an app, to help with furniture assembly, decorating, cleaning and deliveries.​

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