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EDITORIAL How retailers are changing the way they sell in response to evolving customer behaviour

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In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we report as Peak 2019 trading season gets off to what’s become its de facto start – Singles Day. More than $38bn changed hands via the Alibaba Group’s marketplaces during the course of the day. That’s up by 26% on the same time last eyar. Taobao and Tmall president Fan Jiang said the event “showed the world what the future of consumption looks like for brands and consumers”. And the UK was the sixth largest cross-border trading nation taking part in the event. It’s unlikely that sales will grow quite so quickly in UK peak trading – but it’s a good starting point for the global industry.

The way that retailers are selling as consumers change their buying habits continues to change. Fewer shoppers are heading into shops, as we see from today’s latest footfall figures from the BRC and Springboard. So how are they buying instead? New Look believes its customers want to buy online and from stores. It’s enabling them to choose how they buy, whether direct from its website or from third-party marketplace retailers. But those customers are also going into its stores,  collecting record levels of online orders from its conveniently-placed stores. At the same time it’s cutting down on the choice it offers in its stores in order to focus on delivering core lines faster. Mamas & Papas is seeing its customers shop online and via wholesale partners, and it has closed six stores through a pre-pack administration to reflect that change.  Gear4Music shows its customers shifting to mobile in its half-year results and is investing accordingly.

BRC today publishes its pre-general election retail manifesto, calling for government support for the industry through business rates reform – and tariff-free trade with EU partners.

Today’s guest comment is a timely one – it comes from Steven Stewart of Valitor, who considers what the next Prime Minister might do for small and medium sized businesses.

image: Fotolia

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