Although we all wish to hear that the end of the financial recovery is round the corner, economic gurus tell us that with unemployment between 2.3 and 2.5 million, the country is still in recession. Yet, there are encouraging signs on the horizon that 2010 is going to be a better year for the industry.
First, very good Christmas trading figures (the UK retail sales were 4.2% higher than in December 2008 and London showed a 12% increase) lifted the mood of many retailers, particularly those who benefited from high seasonal demand for large flat panel TVs.
Then the ‘must have’ products featuring the latest technologies, such as net books, MP4 players, Blu-ray decks, smartphones and digital cameras all performed well in December. Interestingly, the winter weather not only encouraged greater than usual sales of tumble dryers but also of digital cameras. GfK has reported that digital camera sales during the Christmas period and New Year outperformed every other consumer technology product. The sales value of digital cameras was up by 8% in comparison with December 2008 and in the New Year week they rose by an astonishing 30%. This shows that the big freeze gave people some joy after all!
Finally, recent research by Skillsmart Retail has revealed that the perception of a career in retail has greatly improved in the eyes of career advisors (in contrast to work in finance and banking). This has been attributed to retailers’ efforts to make careers in the sector more appealing – whether through increased pay and benefits or recognising achievements through qualifications and apprenticeships. And this is truly good news for the industry.
Anna Ryland, Editor