The Retail Inspector

Retail Consultants – Retail News – #Retailinspector

What is “Cyber Monday” and “Black Friday” and how do we maximise sales?

Ok – Hands up who know what “Cyber Monday” is?  And keep your hands up if you know what “Black Friday” is???  For those still standing – please sit down if you do not think this is to do with anything Retail

I am sure you are all aware that this weekend is going to be MASSIVE – this weekend is the last payday before Christmas and when we all realise that we only have FOUR weeks, to get all our lovely friends and family the presents they deserve for Christmas

Friday is a holiday in the USA (due to Thanks Giving) and is when the Americans don their shopping outfits and hit the High Streets and Shopping malls, to buy every bargain they can find – they are normally so tired after the weekend shopping (but realise they have forgotten most of the presents) they then hit the internet and surf all day Monday to buy the rest of the presents

Some Stats on “Black Friday” and “Cyber monday” – This weekend should be the biggest according to research…


Each year you can see that over the weekend the numbers of shoppers has increased in the USA and that is forecast to do so again

And online….

More people are now buying online……..Nearly 68 percent of retailers polled say they expect online sales to grow at least 15 percent or more compared with last holiday season, according to’s eHoliday survey.

And, says the National Retail Federation, the average shopper plans to do about 36 percent of their holiday shopping online this year, up from 32.7 percent in 2010. 

Five years ago, people weren’t so comfortable entering their credit-card numbers. But many shoppers started with small-value purchases, such as books, and worked their way up to larger-value buys.

And here is the chart…


As you can see there is an ever increasing number of online shoppers.

Now back to the UK – We all know that what happens in the USA also happens in the UK – So, apart from the holiday, we will follow a similar trend…..and hence my question to you is: ARE YOU READY?

This weekend is VERY important for all retailers and you need to make sure all your Retail Stores are looking good, stock is plentiful, the staff are happy and in selling mode, and your website is ready to take all the orders

My Top Tips for this weekend:

  • Get your stores looking perfect – Signage, pricing, cleanliness etc
  • Make sure your staff are ready and you have good cover over the weekend
  • Think about some incentive offers to entice people into the stores or to your website
  • Make sure your stock is ready to go and you have as much as you think you could sell

And finally…Have fun….This is the start of the busy season, so enjoy your time and make sure each customer you talk to you gain a little more insight into them and what they want form your shop – this is invaluable feedback and leads to better buying in the future

I hope this helps and I wish you an excellent shopping weekend

I would love to hear your thoughts…Please comment below and let me know what you think

Have a great week and Happy Retailing


Thoughts from the Antony “The Retail Inspector”……Is there such a thing as “Fair pricing”?

We are now approaching the business time for all Retailers large and small, and it is tough…very though!!  Tesco has canned the Double points promo and brought in “Price drop” – I am not sure if you have noticed, but Tesco have been increasing prices over the last few months and the “Price drop” is still much higher than 12 months ago – Good marketing ploy, but not good for honesty and our customers.

Where is the concept of “Fair Pricing”?

All customers now need to shop around to find the best deals – they cannot afford to take the offer for granted.  In my opinion, good retailers should be much more honest and work with the customers to ensure that the customer is getting the best deal at the time – this does not mean giving your products away for a low margin, but educating the customer why your products are priced as they are and what the benefits of your products are.

Let me give you a real life example – My office is near “The People’s Supermarket” (I am sure you all remember the TV series about this “community” store).  The concept is local people staffing the store, which leads to good value for the customers…..I am afraid (in my view) this concept has failed completely…The store standards are appalling and I have been shocked by the high prices…unfortunately there is a Waitrose 5 minutes away and I am more likely to shop there.  The People’s supermarket has no personality and no reason to drive me in…as I have said, they need to charge higher prices and I could not find the reason to justify the higher prices.

Now, on the other hand, I have a fantastic local Café that is opposite Starbucks and is fantastic – it is not the most amazing shop fit, but it does have friendly staff and excellent quality food and drink.  I have now persuaded all the office to go there and the owner is grateful…to be fair to him, I told him the reason I am there is quality and value – I know what I get is good quality and a fair price.

For me, “Fair Pricing” is about the customer and your product – you should price your product according to the quality of the product and the value the customer will get from using your products.  We all know the old saying….”you get what you pay for” and all customers know this – If you buy a jumper from Primark it will last a couple of washes, if you buy a jumper from Nigel Hall or Joseph is will last a lot longer.

And for my last comments – What is Selfridges doing???

They are allowing Primark into their stores next to Hugo Boss, John Smedley, Nigel Hall and Tom Ford….are they crazy?  I know we lovingly refer to Primark as “Primani” but we all know it is cheap fashion (and has a well deserved place in our retail mix) – If you spent £100 on a jumper and were given a Yellow Selfridges bag, would you want to see the person next to you spending £5 on a jumper and being given the same bag??? 

Maybe I am a branding snob, but I would not be happy knowing that within the iconic Selfridges bag is a £5 “Primani” jumper….Time will tell, but this is a bad move in my humble opinion.

I would love to hear your thoughts…Please comment below and let me know what you think 🙂

Have a great week and Happy Retailing

Rest in peace Steve Jobs…

I’d like to begin this week’s blog by stating that my thoughts are with the family and friends of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple who sadly passed away Wednesday night.

Steve Jobs was a genius outright who changed the lives of millions of people worldwide. His innovative and entrepreneurial mind has helped simplify our day-to-day lives and ultimately advance technology, as we know it.

Back in 1984 Mr Jobs unveiled the first Apple Macintosh computer and since then the world has been engulfed in new and innovative Apple products, such as the iPod, which revolutionised the way we listen and distribute music.

In more recent years we’ve seen the iPhone and iPad, again, two technologically superior devices which hold a market of it’s own. As I write this on my Macbook Pro it’s easy to see how much of an impact Mr Jobs has had on everyone.

Not to say the world wouldn’t have touch screen phones and tablet devices with the capabilities that Apple products possess, but the question can be asked that had there not been someone as creative as Steve Jobs, when would we have begun to see such inventions?

As far as retail is concerned, retailers have a lot to thank Mr Jobs for; nowadays devices such as iPhones and iPads make it so easy to connect to the world that the day-to-day running of businesses is made much easier.

The competition that has long surrounded Apple products has also been welcoming for retailers, not only can you rely on an Apple product to keep consumers spending, but it opens up a whole new market for other companies to try and compete in.

Touching each and every one of us, Steve Jobs’ legacy will live on for many years; he will go down as an entrepreneurial genius that advanced technology far beyond its years.

US President Barack Obama believes the world has “lost a visionary” he also had this to say: “Steve was among the greatest American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.”


In other news…

It seems everyone’s gone greener and is opting to take the bike to work as opposed to driving.

Halford’s sales figures appear to indicate so as shares rose strongly on Thursday.

Like-for-like sales at Halford’s slipped 2.8pc in the second quarter compared with a 1.9pc fall over the full 26-week half. However this was better than expected and sales of bicycles were up 5.7pc in the half.

So, good positive news for both Halford’s and the environment!

Is it Game over for a certain high-street retailer?

The Retail Inspector – High-Street-2

Game Group, the country’s biggest specialist retailer of video games, suggests that the gaming industry could go the same was as the music and film business: terminal decline.

The period between early February and the end of July saw a decline in the sales of video games hardware – the physical consoles – by 13.7pc, with software sales also down 16.5pc when compared with last years figures. However, Game itself did slightly better with sales only dropping 9.9pc.

The decline in sales obviously due to the lack of interest and excitable releases, earlier this year we had the Nintendo 3DS, which, like most 3D releases, hasn’t quite cultivated the entertainment industry.

IHS Screen Digest estimated that last year digital games totalled £411m, up 23pc, compared with the 17pc deterioration of physical sales to £1.53bn.

Where Game Group and the like will be interested is in the growth of digital gaming, by offering customers the opportunity to download games from their online sites.

The downfall is that when downloading online, gamers will simply look for the cheapest price, there isn’t the same loyalty, as you’ll find with gamers who prefer a high-street shop.

The introduction of the “app store” has revolutionised gaming, with gamers able to download a quirky game on the go and at a low cost. Examples include Angry Birds and Doodle Jump, which are renowned worldwide, and at around £1 they aren’t exactly bank breaking to purchase.

Whilst Game Group’s digital revenue only accounts to around 5pc of the group’s turnover, it does suggest that they are dominating the physical market, but are in danger of being left behind.

This doesn’t spell the end for gaming; in fact, gaming is one of the biggest growing forms of media and entertainment and will no doubt be here for the long run.

The gaming industry makes more than the cinema and DVD industry combined, so there is no worry that it will continue to sell, but the question is whether the high-street retailer can progress with the industry.

With rent, rates and staff wages to pay, can the high-street retailer really make a profitable income, or will they become the latest victim to the digital revolutions ‘survival of the fittest’ policy?


In other news…

Maltesers, the country’s third biggest chocolate brand are to become a Fairtrade product, in a move which will boost sales of the ethical brand by 10pc.

Maltesers become the first Mars product to shift to Fairtrade. Following similar moves from rivals Nestle, whose KitKat is now Fairtrade.

The deal could see a slight increase in the price of a bag of Maltesers but the increase in value will be no doubt worthwhile as the farmers who work day and night to bring us such treats will be rewarded much more fairly for their labour.


JD reflects on damage caused by last month’s rioters…

The Retail Inspector – High-Street-1

Sports Fashion retailer JD Sports announced last month that around £700,000 of stock was looted in last month’s riots, which saw the capital engulfed in disorder.

In total, 16 stores in London, Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham were hit by the anarchy on the streets, with six London stores suffering “very significant thefts”.

Further to this, its Woolwich store in London is still closed as fire damage is repaired but the rest of the stores had reopened their doors by Sunday 21st August.

However, JD Sports did explain that had it not have been for some pre-emptive measures taken to ensure rioters didn’t gain access to its stores, the damage would have been much worse.

JD Sports explained: “We are currently working with our insurers on the subsequent claim, covering theft of stock, repair costs and business interruption. We do not believe that the riots will have a material adverse impact on our outturn for the current year.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Sports Fashion retailer as despite the riots and store closures, profits at JD Sports rose to £20.1m in the six months to the end of July, up from £16.6m in the same period last year.

Sales took a 15pc boost to £439.8m, with like-for-like sales excl. VAT rising by a creditable 1.6pc in seven weeks to September 17th.

However, there was a decline of 17pc in pre-tax profits, excluding exceptional items, to £16m in the half year to July 30 as margins were squeezed through the ever faltering consumer confidence, and of course the VAT increase.

So as the retail world recovers from the chaos caused by the rioters, we have to look forward to the coming Christmas period as a real chance to recover heavy losses sustained.

However, some smaller retailers will have been hit more than others and won’t be able to continue trading, are thoughts are still with those who will have no doubt lost their livelihoods amidst the disorder.

In other news…

Fancy a quick lunch with minimal queuing times? Well now might be a good time to get yourself down to Greggs.

The bakery retailer has announced that is now accepting card and contactless payments throughout its nationwide network of 1500 shops.

The introduction of contactless payments, which enable customers to ‘touch and pay’ in less than a second, will help to reduce queue times during peak trading periods.

Apple to be crowned the world’s most valuable company…Retail Trust has launched a twitter campaign, #highstheroes

The Retail Inspector – High-Street-1

The technology goliath is likely to be crowned the world’s most valuable company tomorrow after briefly stealing the coveted title from Exxon Mobil earlier yesterday as stock markets on Wall Street rebounded.

Estimates report that the market capitalisation of the manufacturer responsible for the iPad and iPhone touched $341.5bn (£210bn) during afternoon trading, only just surpassing Exxon as Apple’s shares made a 3.5pc jump to $365.13.

The crowning of world’s most valuable company will most certainly be the highlight of what has been a tremendous 14 years for Apple. Steve Jobs rescued the company from the brink of bankruptcy in 1997 when he again took the helm of the company he co-founded in his garage in the late 1970s.

Since then it really has been a case of global dominance for Apple, no doubt escalated through innovative designs; the iPod, the iPhone and now the iPad. Not to forget it’s Apple Macs, which have continued to sell well.

Apple products surround us, they are a part of our everyday life; as I type this on my Apple MacBook Pro, I’m listening to music off my iPod whilst elsewhere in the house, three iPhones are charging.

It’s this innovative string of products that really began with the iPod, that have help establish the company’s dominance in the world of consumer electronics and helped the company deliver $7.3bn of profits last quarter.

“Apple is the company when it comes to innovating in technology,” said Colin Gillis, a technology analyst at BGC Partners.

Apple’s ever-rising share price has more than quadrupled in the past four years, and before the stock market’s recent tumble touched the $400 mark for the first time.

And despite the prospect of a deepening slowdown in the US economy and the crisis afflicting the eurozone, most analysts will still recommend buying Apple shares.

So as the battle wages on between Exxon and Apple for the prestigious title, many observers wonder if any technology-based company will ever touch Apple and it’s array of market leading products.


In other news…

I’ve got some positive news for the retailers affected by the London riots.

Retail Trust has launched a twitter campaign, #highstheroes, to raise funds for retail staff and shopkeepers affected by the riots.

The Trust says that anyone can donate as little as £1 and all of the donations will go directly to those retail staff and shopkeepers whose entire livelihoods have suffered due to the damage caused by the rioters and looters.

The Retail Trust Helpline, 0808 801 0808, is open 24/7 for retail staff and shopkeepers affected directly or indirectly.

Contributions at any level can be donated via their website, or by texting HSTH11 £5 to 70070.

It’s tough times for retail, especially those affected, but group ethic like this shows that we can all do something

It’s a bumper blog…Cheaper petrol and beer! Big respect to all Retailers effected by the troubles :-)

It’s a bumper blog…

Firstly, we send our Respect and Best wishes to all the Retailers effected by the troubles – never have we seen such behaviour and we are here to offer our full support and best wishes to get this fixed.


There’s been a few retail stories in the news this week so instead of focusing on one or two I’m going to look at a few in a special bumper blog!

We’ve all been witnessing the destruction caused by out of control rioters across London, and it’ll only be a few days until we’ll know about the repercussions of such an act.

Retail will be amongst the hardest hit as a result of the London riots; with shops being looted, damaged and burnt down left, right and centre it’ll be the already struggling high-street that takes a further beating.

However, information concerning the costs of the riots has yet to be released so until then we just have to leave it in the hands of the police and those in charge.

Moving on from the riots that have seen many cars burnt down, I’ve got some much-needed good news for motorists as supermarkets have said they will be cutting the price of petrol.

Asda, the first chain to announce cuts have knocked up to 2 pence off the price per litre of unleaded petrol and diesel. Morrisons followed suit, saying that they will cut unleaded petrol by 2 pence per litre and diesel by one pence per litre at most of its forecourts.  Tesco have also vowed to drop its unleaded and diesel prices, albeit only a penny, it’s a saving no less.

The savings will put a smile back on the face of motorists who recently have been feeling the force of petrol price inflation – however long it takes before that smile turns to a frown is anyone’s guess, as petrol prices notoriously chop and change.

Speaking of change, Unilever have sold their Chicken Tonight and Ragu sauce brands to Symington’s; a food manufacturer based in Leeds, which has a history that spans almost 200 years.

Chicken Tonight, famous for its advertising jingle that swept the nation in the 1990s was sold earlier this week along with Unilever’s other sauces brand, Ragu, in a deal thought to be between £30m to £40m.

Last year the two brands had a turnover of £20m and the deal will increase Symington’s annualised sales to around £150m.

But have no fear fans of the TV ads; David Salkeld, chief executive at Symington’s has explained, “Our plan is to bring back the famous advertising jingle. We think it’s a key part of the brand.”

Elsewhere, breweries are looking into selling weaker strength beer to take advantage of tax cuts. Since March, a 50 per cent duty reduction was applied to all beers of 2.8 per cent alcohol by volume or less. As a result many breweries have begun experimenting with weaker beers in anticipation of a price-driven surge in popularity.

To give you a rough idea, this could mean that a 2.8pc pint could be up to 50p cheaper than its higher-strength counterpart.

And it seems drinkers are happy to comply, as long as the taste isn’t affected, according to research. So keep an eye out for low-cost beer, coming to a pub near you!

And finally…

Debenhams are to sell a copy of the Alexander McQueen bridesmaids dress worn by Pippa Middleton at the Royal Wedding after being “inundated” with requests from customers.

It’s unfair to say Pippa upstaged her sibling bride, Kate Middleton, but there was a lot of focus on the bridesmaid who wore a dress that caught the eye of many.

Reports suggested that the dress cost £20,000, but Debenhams will sell a replica

Sir Philip Green warns of a profit plunge at Arcadia…

The billionaire businessman has told senior staff that profits at Arcadia, his retail conglomerate that includes Miss Selfridge and Topshop, will fall dramatically this year.

Arcadia, which also owns Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Evans, is at current one of the UK’s largest private equity owned clothing retailer with more than 2,500 outlets.  Sir Phillip acquired the group some ten years ago, and they employ 45,000 staff.

Like other news stories of late, this again signals the downturn that has hit the high street retailers hard in recent months.

It’s believed that Sir Phillip has personally contacted hundreds of senior staff at Arcadia, be it in person or via a conference call, in recent weeks. Sir Phillip was keen to pinpoint stiff competition as a reason for profit losses as he told staff “It is as competitive as it has ever been.”

The current financial year – which runs until the end of this month – are expected to be a third lower, Sir Phillip told employees.

There have been a number of reasons as to why Arcadia is seeing the decline in profits that they are. Last December, the unusually bad weather kept some consumers away from the high street, leaving Arcadia with more stock than usual in the January sales. Sir Phillip believes this particular interference cost him £40m in total.

There is good news though for Arcadia, as despite the fall in profits it’s believed that Sir Phillip has reduced the group’s borrowings, which are expected to drop to the £300m mark by the end of the year, based on the fact that the business is still growing and turning over a substantial amount.

Further good news comes in the way of online trading, time and time again we are seeing retailers growing through online sales, and over the past year Arcadia’s online sales have grown substantially with a number of brands thought to be outperforming rivals.

Topshop will continue it’s international roll-out following the successful opening of the Manhattan store last year. Sir Phillip has plans to open a second flagship store in Chicago in September, with a Las Vegas store to follow in March 2012.

So despite the profit warnings laid down by Sir Phillip, Arcadia will continue to grow and perform at the highest level, proving that with every cloud there’s a silver lining,

In other news…

Thousands of packets of Kettle Chips have been recalled after a batch of the product may have contained pieces of plastic that look like crisps.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a recall notice on four varieties of Kettle Chips, while the company itself said: “As a precautionary measure, we are asking customers not to eat the product and to contact us for a full refund.”

The lines involved are 150g bags of Wave Cut Lightly Salted, Wave Cut Salt & Pepper, Wave Cut Salt & Vinegar, and Lightly Salted Kettle Chips. All of which have a best before date of 29 Oct 2011.



Move over Buzz, Woody and Vader – Lightning McQueen is in town…

One of the biggest retail markets is film franchising and over recent years few films have dominated the market.

Star Wars and Toy Story have long been the biggest film franchises, with both releasing everything from toys, clothing and video games to bed sheets and alarm clocks.

However Disney’s Pixar studios latest release, Cars 2, is predicted to be the cause for more than €200m (£175m) worth of merchandise sales in Europe this year, according to the market research firm NPD.

Should Cars 2 make the €200m mark in merchandise sales, it will be the first film or TV programme to do so in Europe in any year, and follows on from five years of strong sales of toys tied into the first film.

Last year Toy Story racked up €172m worth of sales, and has continuously sold well since the release of the first Toy Story film back in 1995.

Argos, the country’s biggest retailer, released it’s autumn/winter catalogue this weekend and in it featured 414 Cars-branded items – a staggering amount when compared to the 78 Toy Story items and 23 Transformers ones. A spokesman for Argos explained “We expect Cars 2 to be exceptionally strong.”

Hamleys, the well renowned toy department store in London, has predicted that the best-selling toy this year will be the Finn McMissle car, with sound effects voiced by Michael Caine and priced at £40.

Despite not actually knocking Harry Potter off the number one box office spot, Cars will dominate the toy market because of its appeal to a very young audience. Toy analyst Frederique Tutt, at NPD, explained that “Harry Potter is not right for the toy or merchandise market. The perfect age for toys is four to five. After that children discover computer games and sports.”

The release of Cars 2 is good news for the high street as well; kids will be dragging their parents down to the shops with hopes of coming home with a brand new toy in coming weeks.

Film franchising will continue to sustain itself in the retail market and certain releases will emerge as dominant forces, if Cars 2 lives up to expectations then it will take its place in the hall of fame as one of histories greatest, most profitable film franchises.


In other news…

David Beckham will be bringing out his own affordable ‘bodywear’ line for high street retailer H&M.

‘Brand Beckham’ will be going truly global as the bodywear line – namely underwear and T-shirts – will be distributed and sold exclusively by the high street chain, H&M.

Due for release on February 2, 2012, Beckham’s fashion line is almost certainly going to be a sell-out, as general consumers as well as fans will flock to by the clothes endorsed by one of the worlds most popular sportsmen.


OAP’s demand M&S’s attention…as Jamie leaves Sainsburys

Marks and Spencer have been accused of failing to cater to the fashion needs of its over 60’s shoppers.

The “golden oldies” expressed concerns that all across the high street retailers were favouring increasingly racy outfits, obviously designed for the younger generations.

A 2000-strong crowd gathered at the M&S AGM, in which 75-year-old widow, Hilary Roodyn, received rapturous applause when she confronted the directors, demanding they address the balance.

Speaking at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Ms Roodyn said: “I do feel that you are missing a trick. You are not catering for the over-60s.

Demographically, we are growing and if you go on a cruise you’ll find a lot of us golden oldies wanting to wear pretty dresses. But we want to be covered up.”

The whole thing came to light as M&S recently revealed a series of healthy trading figures up against the background of a struggling high street.

Other chains going bust, such as Habitat and Jane Norman, no doubt increased their summer sales figures. As well as this, they introduced 500 new food ranges which increased food sales by 3.3pc. Inflation also added to sales, as average prices across the store were up 7pc than a year ago.

But despite all this, the customers, in particular the over-60’s, still feel their fashion lines are letting them down, by neglecting a powerful demographic.  Helen Garfield, friend of Ms Roodyn, told executives:

“We like to dress up and like to dress up quite modern, but comfortable, with nice fabric. We want to be covered up.

When we were younger we wanted to wear mini skirts, but didn’t have the money, now we’ve got the money but we can’t spend it.”

And it appears the M&S board were listening, chairman Robert Swannell said: “Next year my dear wife will be passing this age so I will be getting first-hand advice on this topic.”

Not too sure how his dear wife will respond to her age being made public, but it’s a positive sign for over-60’s anyway.

In other news…

Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef, will step down as the face of Sainsbury’s, this Christmas after an 11-year association retailer.

The “pukka” chef, who rose to fame in the 1990s with his television series The Naked Chef, appeared in over 100 TV adverts for Sainsbury’s over the last 11 years.

The decision is believed to be a mutual one with Mr Oliver declaring it’s “a good time to move on”

Products that he has championed have often seen sales increase by hundreds of percent. The retailer’s Christmas 2011 campaign will be his last.