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Retail news round-up

A new Salmon Insights white paper addresses ‘The dominance and threat of Amazon’ and ‘why brands need to start fighting back fast’. It says that with nearly 40% of online UK spend going through Amazon, and clear signals of the retail giant’s intent to own the interfaces that connect sectors to their customers, savvy businesses are transforming their offerings and processes to secure their futures. Its message: ‘Don’t wait for the customer – go get them!

The Government’s plan to remove the old pound coin from circulation isn’t being helped by firms who are mistakenly returning its 12-sided replacement to cash centres. Shops may no longer accept the old round pound from October 15 when it ceases to be legal tender.

Fifty-four prison sentences of up to 90 days were imposed on business owners for non-payment of rates in the year to the end of March, according to data compiled by business rent and rates specialist CVS for the Press Association.

August provided a welcome pick-up in retail sales, with non-food returning to growth, according to the BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor. Shoppers’ attentions turned to homewares, autumn clothing ranges and the new school term. However, this news tells a less positive story about the health of consumer spending than it might seem at first glance: non-food sales have only recovered to levels seen two years ago, after a dismal August in 2016.

Most locations saw a year-on-year decline in UK shopper numbers last month. Footfall “sagged” at a more pronounced rate than that witnessed over the past quarter as a whole, according to BRC-Springboard. Retail parks once again bucked the trend, with shoppers attracted by the convenience of a one-stop shop, services and leisure activities

SaveTheHighStreet.org is holding its Industry Leaders Conference from 8am to 5pm on Monday, September 25 at the Richmond Adult Community College, Parkshot, Richmond TW9 2RE. It will include panel discussions involving Retail Advisory Board members, all of whom are retailers; an exposition of the Connected Digital High Street campaign, piloted in Barnes; social media and Google My Business training sessions for optimising shops’ online presence and getting discovered online, and industry leaders and government officials speaking about retail. You can register to attend at https://savethehighstreet.org

Centre for Retail Research director Joshua Barnfield predicts that the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy will trigger around £100m in additional sales in the coming months, with mother and babywear outlets among the beneficiaries.

Businesses have until September 29 to enter the Export Action Plan competition, which gives firms the chance to win £3,000 towards their post-Brexit growth strategy. The competition is being run by Open to Export, a free online information service from The Institute of Export and International Trade that helps small UK businesses get ready to export and expand internationally. Firms will be asked to pitch to a panel of experts in November (www.opentoexport.com)

UK consumer confidence rebounded in August with Gfk’s long-running index showing an uptick among people when reviewing their personal financial situation for the past and the next 12 months, as well as a slight improvement in views about the general economic state of the country as a whole.

While a Lloyds Bank survey of 200 companies with a turnover above £1 million revealed confidence had fallen to a one-year low because of pessimism among businesses with consumer focused activity, the purchasing managers’ index poll shows that manufacturers remain upbeat, with the sharp fall in the pound leading to a surge of orders at home and abroad.

Alan Monahan