UK’s retail boom highlights need to get omnichannel right

11th Aug 2014

Is there optimism for the UK’s retail sector? Ignoring the month of June which showed a disappointing blip for in-store, sales in the sector both for bricks-and-mortar and online have experienced their best calendar quarter increase in ten years.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported last week that retail sales volumes rose 1.6% in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, something Reuters declared as the “latest sign of strength in Britain's economy which has put a first interest rate hike on the agenda of the Bank of England”.

Online shopping continues to rise too, and growth in 2014 has surpassed all manner of forecasts, with the ONS figures stating that shoppers now spend £728.9m a week in the UK, with figures for June 13.4% higher than in 2013.

"The meagre growth in the official measure of UK retail sales volumes in June probably understates the underlying strength of the consumer recovery," Samuel Tombs, senior UK economist at Capital Economics told Reuters.

Comparing the second quarter with the same period last year, sales were up 4.5%, the strongest calendar quarter since the end of 2004.

Omnichannel delivery continues to provider retailers with one of their greatest challenges. While online sales still only provide 11.3% of all retail spending, this statistic is expected to continue to rise. Dan Wagner, CEO of Powa Technologies believes this prove the need for retailers to better juggle customers across channels, rather than focusing solely on either in-store or digital:

“With ecommerce spending continuing to increase, it is clear retailers are now dealing with a savvier customer base seeking greater levels of control and freedom in how and when they purchase goods.

“Shoppers are increasingly anticipating traditional bricks-and-mortar and ecommerce to merge into a single seamless experience, and retailers that continue to think in terms of online versus offline face being left behind.

“The next step is to enable customers to buy whenever and wherever they may be, when they are at that critical buying-decision moment.”

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