As Black Friday hits the UK once again, it has brought with it a plethora of bargains for consumers, with retailers receiving boosts in sales as a result. The imported US shopping event helped lift sales on British high streets in November by 1%. At John Lewis, in the final week of November, sales surged 29.7% year-on-year, predominantly driven by fashion sales up 71% compared to the week before. Despite this, year-on-year total UK retail sales dropped by 4.4% – highlighting the continuing problems faced by high street retailers. It is not all plain sailing for retailers in the Black Friday sales – with ASOS being lambasted on Twitter for selling products which appeared to be discounted, without actually having a price reduction. It is clear heavy discounts are a great way to drive footfall and sales to the struggling high street retailers, but is it enough? In order to make their mark, retailers have been focusing on customer experience and in-store innovation to encapsulate consumers.
Pop-ups have been a cornerstone of innovation for retailers in this past year, with Selfridges collaborating with Instagram on a curated edit of Instagram-first fashion, beauty and jewellery from brands such as One DNA, Kim Shui and Mene. Seeking to blend the digital and physical realms, consumers will be able to purchase both in-store or via Instagram. Ever wondered how suitable a product is for you genetically? Well, fear not – Waitrose has allowed customers in pop-ups to get DNA tested and then use an app or wristband to scan products around a store. A light flashes green for a good choice, or red if it does not match a user’s health traits aiming to improve the health and nutrition of customers. Innovation in retail spaces will be central as retailers look to resurge in the future, changing their role from a point of purchase to a touch point to provide exemplary customer experience.
Another of the year’s central themes is ever-present in this week’s stories – sustainability. Having risen to the top of both consumers’ and retailers’ minds, sustainability is a key area of innovation in retail. In an effort to curb waste, Holland & Barrett are selling products after their best-before date across a variety of ranges excluding vitamins, protein powders and dairy products. Co-op is aiming to cut aluminium packaging given its lack of recycling by consumers, with the majority ending up in landfills despite the fact that aluminium can be endlessly recycled. Hopefully this initiative will help reduce the impact of mince pies during Christmas! It looks promising that the sustainable agenda will continue to spread across retailers and consumers alike – and we have a lot of innovation to look forward to in this space.
Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!
Grade: Associate Consultant
Strategy and Operating Model, Innovation and Strategy
Area of speciality: Luxury / Fashion Retail