Archive for December, 2010


Numerous retailers at Heathrow, the UK’s biggest airport, missed out on Christmas trade after flights were cancelled and the airport almost came to a complete standstill.

Only 16 flights left the airport on 19 December, meaning air-side retailers such as Harrods and Mulberry in Terminal 3 were left to serve a customer base consisting predominantly of staff from the airport.

Some stores were forced to shut early due to the lack of footfall through the terminal. It is hoped things would change in the coming days with many more flights expected to take off.

BAA has announced that a reduced flying schedule would remain in place until 6am on Wednesday 23 December.

A spokesperson for the airport operator said “ A maximum of one-third of flights are likely to operate during this period, and passengers should anticipate further delays and cancellations in the following days and potentially beyond Christmas Day.”

Boots opened its airport stores earlier than usual over the weekend in an attempt to recoup any lost custom, while trading hours were also increased to deal with the high demand for landside passengers.

The retailer also said it had donated all its baby food and nappies to BAA to distribute to customers and also donated sandwiches to stranded passengers.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

The British Retail Consortium has said that the planned walk out of tube workers on Boxing Day could have a major impact on London’s shops.

With the news that drivers walking out in a dispute over pay, the BRC says what they are calling one of the biggest shopping days of the year could be hit hard.

Director General, Stephen Robertson said that due to the severe weather and student protests of recent weeks, retailers in London desperately need a strong start to the sales.

Mr Robertson commented, “ This could be a major blow for London’s retailers and their customers on what’s now one of their most important days of the year.”

He also said that up to 38,000 jobs could be directly dependent on the success of the retailer sector in the capital.

He continued by saying that retailers faced a difficult 2011 with the rise in VAT and the public sector cuts taking affect.

He added, “Everyone involved in the Tube drivers’ dispute needs to recognise the importance of London retailing and the damage disruption on this scale will cause”.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

The recent snowfall has caused the retail supply chain pipeline to freeze up, creating problems from distribution centre to delivery level, Andrew Sharkey, Delivery Director, IMRG has revealed.

Internet retailers have struggled to meet demand, with many online purchases not expected to arrive in time for Christmas Day.

Retailers and delivery firms are working to rectify the problems particularly given the importance of the time of year.

Starkey commented, “ If deliveries can’t be made because of the weather, the depots fill up and when they can’t take any more, parcels have to be kept on the trailers that brought them across the country.

“This leaves all the delivery companies short of capacity to collect and move new orders.

“The result is that the whole pipeline starts to seize up with a knock-on effect to parts of the country that otherwise don’t seem to have been hit too badly by the weather.

“ It’s understandable that shoppers in these areas will find this frustrating, but without vehicles available in the right places to move parcels, they simply can’t be delivered”.

Despite the many problems the weather has caused, the online retail industry is expected to have a bumper festive season; with sales estimates highlighting continued year-on-year growth.

James Roper, CEO of IMRG, said “ December 2010 remains on track to be the biggest online shopping month in the UK with a predicted £6.4 billion spent online, and more than a quarter of a billion parcels successfully delivered”.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

There are many different views on digital merchandising and what should and shouldn’t be done; what the best offerings are and how a platform should be implemented.

One way of approaching online merchandising is using a collective intelligence approach with five layers of functionality to increase search result efficiency, product recommendation and presentation to increase the overall consumer shopping experience.

These five layers are:

  • Behavioural merchandising: Providing real-time customised recommendations to customers based on their user experience and behaviour. This can be done solely on their actions or can be achieved through an intelligent approach based on past or present user behaviour.
  • Metrics driven merchandising: Using online activity data to make bespoke product recommendations based on customised metrics in line with marketing objectives.
  • Search and Search driven merchandising: Customising product page navigations to match the exact search queries being entered. Filters that optimise results, product data, page templates can guide search and similar product offers.
  • Visual merchandising: Organising the appearance of an online store.  This can be as basic as driving the display of visual elements on a site, presenting banner ads based on a category search or it can be enhanced with metric drivers.
  • Personalisation and other customised merchandising strategies: A system, which recognises customers and personalises recommendations further. This can include personalised email recommendations to best target your online customers.

A merchandising solution can include all of the above, one layer or multiple layers depending on the needs of any one retailer… either way these are some of the key elements that must be acknowledged when considering a merchandising strategy.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

The weather may be playing havoc with the UK retail industry in the run up to Christmas but it may not be for long as January sales predictions should instil a new found confidence for the new year.

Research commissioned by Kelkoo and carried out by the Centre for Retail Research infers that UK consumers will spend around £22.5bn during the January sales, at an average of £370 per person.

The prediction represents a £360m increase compared to the same period this year and is expected to be the lat “big spend” before consumers rein in their spending during the rest of the year.

Many companies have already started their sales periods  in an attempt to keep people spending in the snowy weather and boost end-of-year revenue.

Chris Simpson, Marketing Director for Kelkoo, said “ This January sales period could be likened to the calm before the storm for the UK retail industry, as retailers should see an average boost in spending of 1.6% on last year’s figures”.

“The success, or otherwise, of the January sales depends not only on what customers want and what they are prepared to pay, but also on retailers’ success during the Christmas period”.

B&Q is one company to start their sales early, with products being reduced form 17 December, in the hope that people will bring their big ticket purchases forward to beat the VAT rise.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

The CBI has downgraded its forecast for the first quarter of 2011 of UK economic growth.

The employers group said it expects growth of 0.2% down from 0.3%, with public sector job losses and a higher-than-expected inflation slowing the economy.

The group also expects the Bank of England to start raising interest rates from as early as Spring 2011.

The CBI said that it doesn’t however, see the UK falling back into recession, and predicts that second quarter growth will exceed or match 0.4%.

Consumer spending will take a hit in 2001, with the VAT rise taking effect from 4 January and energy bills expected to be higher than normal due to recent weather.

CBI chief economic adviser, Ian McCafferty, said “ Quarterly growth at the start of 2011 is likely to be very sluggish, although we do expect the recovery itself to stay on track.

“What is striking is how little we see growth accelerating in 2012. Typically, by the third year of a recovery, growth would be more robust than we expect for either 2011 or 2012”.

The CBI also predicts that after a 0.4% growth in the second quarter it expects 0.5% for each of the third and fourth quarters, giving 2% annual growth rate for the year.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

The number of vacant shops on the average UK high street has increased since 2009 as retail moves towards a new era.

Research commissioned by the BBC, surveyed 500 towns and cities across the UK and found that the national average for shop vacancies now stands at 14 per cent, from 10.5 per cent in 2009.

Despite an increasing number of retailers continue to focus their attention to the online arena, 2,633 restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets opened in the first six months of this year, while 2,145 hairdressers and beauty salons started up across the towns and cities surveyed.

Matthew Hopkins, from the Local Data Company who carried out the survey said “ This survey has shown that a significant part of the high street’s issues are not related to the recession; it is more a reflection of our changing shopping habits.

“The internet was widely heralded as the death knell for the high street, but the data shows that shopping in person is still a key pastime for many”.

Travel agents and off-licences have gradually been disappearing from the UK streets in the past few years while the number of charity shops and convenience format supermarkets have increased considerably.

Of all the cities surveyed, Altrincham was the worst affected when it came to empty shops, with 29.6 per cent of properties vacant, followed closely by Stockton-on-Tees, Rotherham and Margate which all had a higher rate higher than 25 per cent.

Liz Peace, CEO of the British Property Federation, said “ The rise of internet shopping coupled with the recession is forcing high streets to adapt.

“Only those centres that can quickly meet our day-to-day needs, or that can offer a fun shopping experience, will continue to thrive”.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Online sales in the UK reached a staggering 130 transactions per second at 13:15pm on Monday 6 December as Christmas shoppers continued to splash the cash.

Retail Decisions, a payment fraud and processing specialist, said that an estimated £830,000 was spent at that time in what was the busiest shopping year of 2010 by a considerable margin.

A spokesperson for Retail Decisions said, “ The figures, which are based on real-time sales from leading online retailers in the UK, show that Christmas shoppers are increasingly turning to the internet for price comparisons, free shipping and discounted deals”.

The IMRG which has described the day as ‘Mega Monday’ predicted that combined sales from Sunday and Monday would pass £0.5 billion.

David Smith, Managing director at IMRG said “ Now that everyone has been paid we are seeing online Christmas shopping really burst into life for this year during today’s lunch period.

“Mondays tend to have the highest spend of the week as people go out to the shops over the weekend and try the products before making a decisions”.

Smith added “ With over half the population of the UK now shopping online, this Christmas looks to be a big one for retailers, possibly even exceeding our estimation of £6.4 billion spent online in December”.

It remains to be seen if these figures will be beaten before the Christmas period is over but with the way that spending has increased as the year has progressed anything is possible.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

eBay’s Super Sunday

Ebay.co.uk has revealed that sales increased by 18 per cent year-on-year on Sunday 5th December, the busiest day of the year according to the retailer.

Almost 1.4 million goods were bought on ‘Super Sunday’, the equivalent of 17 gifts being purchased every second as more than 5 million consumers visited the site.

The recent cold snap which has affected most if not all of the UK, meant internet sales have continued to rise, with internationally sales also performing well, 11 per cent more than last year.

The biggest selling items on the site were DVDs, followed closely by women’s shoes and CDs, with various clothing, shoes and accessories completing the top ten items purchased.

Jody Forward, Director of eBay UK, said of the day “ The festive spirit has well and truly arrived!

“ Online shopping continues to go from strength to strength as people look for choice and value form the comfort of their own homes and it’s encouraging to see sales up so considerably, despite the tough economic climate”.

Ford added “ We tend to see a sharp rise in sales on the first Sunday in December as people start to think about their Christmas shopping list, although this year’s cold snap has clearly led to even more people choosing to shop without the hassle of the high street”.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Retail skills more readily considered traditional to high street shops such as merchandising and customer service are just as vital to online businesses as they are to companies with bricks and mortar, according to two industry heavyweights.

Asos.com CEO, Nick Robertson and CEO of the Shop Direct Group, Mark Newton-Jones both admitted that they have managed to move their businesses forward using tried and tested formulas.

Robertson said “ I think the reason we’ve been able to grow as quickly as we have is because a lot of the skills we have at Asos are just good, traditional retail skills.

“ We have a very big buying and merchandising team and all those buyers and merchandisers have come from high street backgrounds.

“The good news for us is that we have been able to grow because a lot of the skills already exist out there”.

Newton-Jones added his views on customer service saying “ This is really difficult and it’s one of the things people struggle with when they move from high street retailing to remote retailing.

“ You never queue at the till; you never see somebody trying something on; you don’t wander around the shop and pick up a product to see how broad your range is – you just don’t get that so you have to work really hard at it”.

Both men were speaking at the Skillsmart Retail Parliamentary reception, which was held at the House of Commons in central London last week.

To many, online retailing may look and feel different to bricks and mortar retail shops but the essence of the business is the same. It is all about delivering quality products to the customer in a way they find easy to digest and also easy to navigate and make decisions.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com