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Christmas trading shows lessons need to be learned on the High Street

Thursday 11 January 2018

DR GORDON Fletcher, retail expert at the University of Salford Business School, comments on Christmas trading figures, which several retailers have announced in the last few days.

Dr Fletcher said: “After the haze of New Year celebrations the seemingly annual procession of post-Christmas retail profit warnings now begins. This year the early signals are that Mothercare, Debenhams and House of Fraser have not enjoyed as successful a trading period as they had hoped, while brands such as Next and Morrisons seems to have done better.

“The belated lesson to be learned with these announcements is that the traditional UK high street experience remains under the constant combined threat of online retailers and more agile brands who are able to pop up at will. 

“The extent of the prevailing issues for the retail sector is revealed with one of the key suppliers to the retailer sector, McBride, also sending out a profit warning this week. 

“However, there is some sort of reassurance in this announcement as the warning will only bring McBride's expected profits back to its 2017 levels.”

“It is also increasingly clear that retailers who cannot disentangle their brand experience from a specific physical high street presence are most at risk. As consumer confidence grows in online purchasing of larger and more customised items the value of high street brands built around specific interests or life experience is increasingly declining. Similarly the physical experience that consumers enjoy around luxury brands must become ever more boutique and individualised. It is the experience and not that actual product that makes the brand.”

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Sam Wood

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