Retail news round-up

When you visit a trade show, how long do you stay? According to market research firm FaceTime the average retailer is there for just five and a half hours. Its report for live-event companies also reveals that just over three-quarters of visitors to exhibitions make new purchasing decisions there or have existing ones reinforced.

Travel company Expedia topped Glassdoor’s 2017 employees’ poll to find the best places to work in the UK. The only retailer to finish in the top 10 was Screwfix in 9th place. Harrods was 29th, John Lewis 33rd and Waitrose 36th, followed by Sainsbury’s (45th) and Lush (46th).

Although the Office for National Statistics reported a new record low for unemployment, the BRC said that the situation in the retail industry “could not be more different”. Jobs are down 0.5% on last year. Unlike the UK as a whole, retail is experiencing rapid productivity gains. Technology is transforming the way we shop and retailers are reshaping careers in the industry towards better quality roles “with people equipped with the skills to operate in this new era of retailing”.

The health and wellbeing of small business owners, the self-employed, and the staff of small employers are at the heart of a new campaign launched by The Federation of Small Businesses. The new drive will help its members – and the wider 5.5 million-strong small business community across the UK – reap the benefits of a positive approach to wellbeing, which are felt not only by the business they run but also by the economy and society as a whole.

The second quarter of 2017 saw the number of shop openings reduce by 84% compared to Q2 2016, LDC reveals. The impact of the slowdown resulted in a net loss of -207 shops in the second quarter versus a net increase of +1,284 outlets in the first quarter of the year.

Mid-sized businesses are unclear about their post-Brexit future, with almost two-thirds reporting a drop in confidence about their own growth ambitions, according to research from accountancy firm BDO. And the Federation of Small Businesses has warned that optimism among smaller companies is at its lowest level since the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.

Alibaba has launched the world’s first facial recognition payment technology at a KFC restaurant in Hangzhou, China.

The appetite for zero-hour contracts has dulled. The Office for National Statistics reported that there were around 1.4 million in May 2017 compared to 1.7 million in May last year.

John Lewis, which has launched its festive displays at stores across the country, says that shoppers are beginning their Christmas buying earlier than ever, and sales of Christmas-related products are already up 12% compared to a year ago.

Alan Monahan