Editor's Comment

Time to look further afield as UK market stagnates?

Today’s ONS retail sales figures for January paint a gloomy picture of the month gone by and, more worryingly, the months ahead. With inflation set to rise and with Brexit still casting a shadow of uncertainty across, well, everything, consumer confidence is at a low ebb and retailers are feeling the pinch.

Time then to look elsewhere for sales. Once such opportunity sits around looking for other peaks in other markets. Ealier this week we looked at how Valentine’s Day is increasingly becoming a new peak – or at least a new hook to hang promotions around – to drive early Feb sales and get people back into spending post-Christmas. Perhaps they we should also be looking at how to exploit peaks in other regions, such as Chinese New Year?

While hard Brexiters point to the wealth of trade deals with the likes of China that we will be able to do once out of the clutches of the EU, perhaps retailers need to look at how to get a foothold in these countries right now – if not for Brexit, but for keeping sales up in the here and now.

According to  Rakuten Marketing [IRDX VRMA] and PCA Predict in two separate studies, Chinese consumers are lapping up UK goods, especially in the luxury sector, and events such as Chinese New Year are an ideal way for UK companies to shift product. It is also a good set up for shifting even more in November on Singles’ Day.

Of course, there are challenges in reaching into the Chinese market, but many of these can be solved by using marketplaces such as Rakuten and Alibaba to tap this market quickly and natively, without having to do too much ground work.

With things stagnating in the UK, overseas now offers the best bet for many retailers. It really is worth a look.

Find out more about upcoming InternetRetailing webinars and register for free on the InternetRetailing webinar page. You can also catch up with past webinars on the page: recent sessions have come from IBM Watson on using AI to improve the customer experience, and from SmartFocus and The Entertainer on using social to reach digital customers.

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IMAGE Karen Arnold at PublicDomainPictures

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