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2014 Retail Lessons

To improve, it’s vital to look at retail sales results from the previous years with the aim to review, analyse and evaluate all relevant insights. And with the golden quarter being the most significant event on the retail calendar, it’s a good place to start.

Key take homes:

  • Successful brands include both a strong online presence and value positioning.
  • Multichannel strategies such as ‘Click and Collect’ make purchasing easier for consumers.
  • Customer loyalty will continue to be a challenge if price wars continue and consumers have a strong enough reason to shop around to get the best prices.

With a slow run up to Christmas, retailers feared the worst but the final results were better than expected. The conditions remained challenging but supermarket brands rose to the challenge. Improvements were seen at Tesco and Morrisons and better than expected trading at Sainsbury’s plus continuing strong growth at Waitrose.


According to our research, retail spend was up by 1.9% in December 2014, which was an increase of 0.2% on the month before. This equated to a weekly spend of £9 billion in December 2014, again a significant increase on weekly spend in 2013.

So spend was definitely on the up. However, where the pound was being spent is key, with online and out of town shopping parks proving to the preferred choice for the consumer. In December alone, one in five items sold were bought from an e-retailer. Strong performance from the likes of ASOS and Primark illustrate the importance of a strong online presence and value positioning.

If we take a closer at one of the Big Four, Sainsbury’s, they experienced a better than expected period.  The orange supermarket actually matched the same volume of sales as last year, however the big difference was significant drop in prices the retailer had to make to achieve this same goal. That is something that will continue to be an issue as the value of the price wars is questioned. More than ever, consumer behaviour is the controlling factor when it comes to prices, with no loyalty to one store or a brand, the consumer will swap and change to ensure they get the best overall deal from their spend.


‘Click and Collect’ has been a hit with a variety of retailers, not just supermarkets, as it allows customers to shop online and collect their items in store. Amazon, Very, Mulberry and Ocado have all jumped on the bandwagon, with Starbucks also launching the service in the US. Multichannel strategies like these make it easy for today’s time-poor consumers and increase the purchasing options available to them.

As we continue towards the end of the first quarter of trading in 2015, the biggest challenge for this industry will continue to be the marketplace itself. However, armed with the best tools, brands can overcome this with the help from people in store who prioritise a brand’s presence, distribution and availability at this key trading period.

Learn from last year, get in touch with our team to maximise your sales.