Viewpoint: ONS reports a 0.5% drop in retail sales in GB in May ’22

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By Ed Betts, UKI General manager

Last week’s news from the ONS highlighted the continuing impact of inflation with a fall of 0.5% in retail sales figures in May 2022. Retail Express appreciates the tough situation that many retailers are now finding themselves in. Our experience is that, in challenging times, customers will be more concerned about how they can make savings by changing their buying habits than being loyal to any particular brand. What should retailers do?

It’s therefore all the more imperative in the current climate that retail businesses negotiate hard to place the best deals and offers in front of their customers, giving them a compelling reason to remain loyal. It’s important for retail leaders to consider that customers will not hesitate to switch to the deep discount stores, not out of preference, but through necessity when they feel that they are no longer getting the best value for money. We have already seen evidence that customers are drastically changing their shopping habits to put food on the table.

However, while such high levels of inflation are having a dramatic impact on the market, retailers should keep in mind that making any knee-jerk reaction in response can be risky. While it’s crucial to be able to react to inflationary pressures and changes in the market dynamics, it’s also imperative to keep the customer at heart. Any decision not fully thought out or implemented as part of a wider strategy, could have long-term implications, taking significant time to undo and, ultimately, damaging the brand.

Innovative solutions such as intelligent merchandising that uses artificial intelligence can help. Retail leaders need to be leveraging AI to capture deeper insights, anticipate customer needs and proactively deliver across every touchpoint. Real-time data can be used to generate accurate predictions and forecasts, and will enable better decisions about selecting the right sales mix. This helps retailers keep the customer at heart by presenting the best deals available and unlocking greater value.

Read more about the impact of inflation and our solutions to help retail businesses

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