In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as new figures from the British Retail Consortium suggest that online and offline sales slowed in February, compared to the previous year. Barclaycard analysis suggests that department store sales – along with those in the clothing sector – were particularly hard hit, with spending in both areas falling by more than 5%, year-on-year. These figures are all, arguably, reflected in today’s profit warning from Debenhams, which has seen its overall sales fall by more than 5% in recent months, although online sales have lifted slightly.
The news of the Debenhams’ profit warning illustrates a wider climate in which retailers are not only working hard to adapt as shoppers move their purchases further online, but to turn a profit in the face of uncertainty ahead of a rapidly approaching Brexit. Shoppers are unsurprisingly pausing their spending on non-essential purchases, according to Barclaycard, and department stores are suffering as a result.
The climate is one that’s providing opportunities, however, for retailers such as Sports Direct International, which has now bid for Findel. The bid comes within a 12 month period that has also seen the retailer buy House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and Sofa.com.
But despite this uncertainty it seems that smaller businesses are flocking to sell online at eBay. The marketplace says it saw more businesses sign up in 2018 than it had since 2015. Its research suggests that emerging entprepreneurs are taking this step in order to benefit from the greater independence and flexibility that comes with working for themselves - and it may well be that in doing so they find new retail models that will win out in an environment that’s proving so difficult for established businesses.
Today we look beyond the UK to share an interesting story from our European coverage, on how French supermarket Carrefour is seeing sales rise at a time when it’s focusing on digital and on developing its own omnichannel model. As French retail hasn’t yet moved as far online as it has in the UK, this is the time for retailers there to adapt to the changing consumer behaviour that UK traders, further along the line, are now finding so difficult.
Today’s guest comment comes from David Meyer of CSS Chopper who takes a closer look at retargeting – and consent.
Image: InternetRetailing Media/Paul Skeldon