Retail records record annual fall in sales

Retail sales in 2020 saw the largest annual fall since records began in 1996, with a fall recorded of 1.9 per cent across the year, according to the office of national statistics.

The 0.3 per cent rise in sales volumes during December was only a fraction of the predicted 1.2 per cent increase. Clothing sales were hit hardest, falling by over a quarter.

In contrast, the value of online sales played its part in preventing an even greater disaster, up 46.1 per cent compared to 2019.

Melissa Minkow, Retail Industry Lead at CI&T, advised that although e-commerce is not a ‘perfect solution’ to lockdown retail challenges, there is no better time for retailers to double-down on ensuring the digital path to purchase is frictionless, reliable, informative, and engaging.

“Tightening up demand forecasting methods to streamline the supply chain will be absolutely crucial in minimising waste-generated losses,2 sad Ms Minkow. “Improved predictive technology will lessen lockdown’s impact on margins, while priming retailers to better anticipate consumers’ fluctuating buying patterns even beyond this urgent situation. In addition to nailing the transactional and technological components, though, retailers would be best served to demonstrate compassion (not in an exploitative way, of course, but in a helpful way). This is an important moment for brands to ask themselves how they can provide real value to consumers.”

And Daniel Whytock from DownYourHighStreet.com reported that independent retailer are optimistic that the second half of 2021 will make up for a portion of what’s been missed.

“I believe fashion may see a spike in sales then as consumers have over-purchased on lockdown related goods such as homewares, gadgets and gaming, and groceriesm” said Mr Whytock. “And this spike will be amplified by the fact that we usually see a rise in clothing sales when the restaurant trade is successful – and I expect the nation to be eating out as much as possible once restrictions are lifted.”

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