Retail news round-up: Consumer trends and taking control; online payment scams

Identifying its 10 global consumer trends for 2019, Euromonitor International says that many of them are about ‘taking control and asserting ourselves’. It concludes that ‘in the face of turmoil and uncertainty, we feel more powerful when we go back to basics and eat an egg laid by our own hens, or actually choose to find solace away from digital demands without junking them completely.’

And it adds: ‘We want to get that thing or service seamlessly and easily. We want to make a difference by buying more thoughtfully. We want to make a difference. We want to look after ourselves and sidestep the experts, by taking up the reins of knowledge ourselves and driving the consumer conversation more than ever. We need to feel just a bit more powerful amid the chaos.’

A total of £354m was lost last year through online payment scams, according to trade association UK Finance. Victims were tricked into transferring money directly from their account. Just a fifth of the money was able to be recovered. A new code comes into force on May 28: firms who sign up to it will be committed to reimbursing victims of ‘authorised push payment’ scams when the customer has met the code’s standards and their bank or payment service provider is at fault.

Baselworld, the jewellery and watchmaking industry show, attracted 81,200 visitors across the six days, 22% fewer than in 2018.

Consumer confidence is holding steady amid Brexit upheaval, according to the GfK consumer confidence index which was unchanged at -13 in March. The personal financial situation index for the next 12 months improved by one point to +2, while the general economic situation index over the coming year increased by two points, compared with February’s -38.

Global sales of diamond jewellery grew by 4% in 2018 to reach a new record of $85.9 billion, according to Russian diamond producer Alrosa. However, growth was lower than the 5% achieved in 2017, which it attributed to the slowdown in key consumer markets over the last year.

Retail sales volumes fell in the year to March, compounding a subdued start to 2019, according to the latest CBI monthly Distributive Trades Survey. It showed volumes declined sharply (-18%), the fastest contraction in 17 months. This disappointed retailers’ expectations for strong growth in March, but sales volumes are expected to rise in April (+15%).

Orders placed on suppliers also fell in the year to March (-13% from +7% in February), but are expected to return to modest growth in April (+6%).

Alan Monahan