We’d barely cleared the New Year’s party streamers when the bad news began - the collapses of Jessops, Blockbuster and HMV created a nasty sense of déjà vu for the retail world. It felt like the doldrums of the previous few years was a dark cloud loitering.
The weather wasn’t helping either, as one of the longest, bleakest winters in recent history dampened spirits. It also dented sales of spring 13 ranges as we opted to remain in knitwear instead of spending on the spring florals the shops were filling with.
However, Britain got a much needed fillip when - finally - Andy Murray got to lift the trophy at Wimbledon. Then we celebrated the arrival of Prince George. After months of maternitywear-watch - where mum-to-be brand Séraphine saw a 400% uplift in sales - we moved on and started analysing baby grows, blankets and moses baskets. It was estimated that the future king’s arrival boosted UK retail to the tune of £243m.
But best of all, we enjoyed the hottest, driest and sunniest summer since 2006, which allowed fashion to flourish.
Ecommerce and m-commerce sales broke record after record, and retailers introduced yet more innovative shopping channels such as click-and-collect and same-day delivery. Retail was alive once more. While the tills were ringing, the wider economic picture was becoming brighter too. Many key industries reported a huge uplift in performance, and the UK was said to be returning to growth at a rate faster than any other country.
As the year draws to a close, we also are still experiencing the ‘correct’ weather - the autumn was autumnal, and winter is wintry. Everything bodes well for a successful season for retailers.
After what has been a hugely challenging few years, it is refreshing for retailers, suppliers and consumers alike to go into the new year in such high spirits. And long may it continue. Wishing you all a prosperous 2014.