Ryan Kemp, director of retail at TransUnion (formerly Callcredit) comments on the latest ONS Retail Sales Index: “The retail industry showed strong growth in January 2019 when compared with the previous year, both in terms of the amount spent – which was up 4.3% – and the quantity bought – up 4.0% – which is good news in light of the current economic uncertainty as Brexit looms.
“Unsurprisingly, there were some specific monthly decreases following consumers splurging in the January sales, such as online sales at department stores – down 22.8% – and textile, clothing and footwear stores – down 22.5%.
“Overall, however, online sales saw a year-on-year increase of 9.4%, when compared with February 2018, which is a clear affirmation of the ongoing shifts within retailing towards ecommerce, in addition to investments in personalisation, improving the customer journey and enhancing the in-store experience.
“Retailers should be adapting their business to the changing marketplace, since new kinds of consumption such as curated subscription models, the service economy, auto-replenishment and smart reordering have the potential to fundamentally alter the retail landscape. Innovation is essential to ensure retailers can meet the demands of today’s discerning consumers. Whether in-store or online, the use of data plays an increasingly important role, and forward-thinking retailers will keep exploring ways to leverage data-driven insights across sales, marketing, customer service and operations.
“Fraud prevention should also be a key consideration for retailers, as the shift towards online shopping brings with it increased opportunity for fraudsters. According to the British Retail Consortium’s 2019 retail crime survey, despite retailers spending 17% more on cybersecurity than last year, nearly 80% of the retailers surveyed saw an increase in the number of attacks and/or breaches. Vigilance is essential to protect consumers from ID theft, phishing and other scams, and having the right tools in place will benefit businesses and consumers alike.”