As the festive hangover begins to fade and we step into the new year, here are the retail resolutions we would like to see being made and upheld for 2017.
1 Full-price sales
Amid all the uncertainty and challenges facing trade during 2016, one issue stood out above the rest: the vicious cycle of discounting. Several seasons of unseasonable weather, over-buying and fierce competition from etailers have caused retailers to become trigger happy with the red signs.
Of course markdowns play their part in clearing end-of-season stock but these pre-season, mid-season and all-season Sales have to stop, as they are training shoppers to only buy product when discounted. This damages brand reputation, erodes margins and makes life more difficult for all.
2 Business rates reform
A gripe for retailers for many years the business rates system is in desperate need of full review during 2017. Retailers across the country are calling for more realistic transitional relief proposals following the revaluation of rateable values – and rightly so, as the values in some districts in London are set to jump by as much as 400%. London’s businesses will have to pay £885m more in total annually as a result of the revaluation, some estimates show.
In a year where growth is predicted to slow and inflation rise, if the government does not do something to address this inequitable system, it may be the final nail in the coffin for some retailers.
3 Product innovation
In what is going to be a tough retail environment, newness and excitement is key in driving full price sales for fashion retailers this year. When times are tough, it is all too easy to play it safe and cut back on detail in favour of protecting margin but in a world of “me toos”, innovative design and quality product is essential to stand out from competitors. We’re hoping to see some bold design and risk-takers in 2017.
4 Brexit calm
Brexit flags for web
Brexit – however it is going to look – is a while away yet as we wait for article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to be triggered by April. But given the uncertainty it has already caused, we are hoping for a calmer retail environment as the details are ironed out.
Currency was one of the biggest bugbears for retailers in 2016 as the value of the pound plummeted following the result of the EU referendum. However, it recovered as talk of a “soft-Brexit” emerged. The hope is that trade talks with European and global markets will run smoothly, the pound will continue to fight back and retailers – both British and international – will continue to invest in the UK.