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Online Retail News In Brief (22 November 2017)

By IMRG

In case you missed them, we’ve pulled together a few online retail news highlights from around the web this week.

Here are some of the latest stories in online retail.

Which? casts another sceptical eye on Black Friday

It’s Black Friday week, and Which? has yet again advised shoppers to approach the event with a healthy degree of suspicion.

The group reported that 60% of the items it tracked as part of its research were cheaper at other times in the year.

Retailers expressed confusion as to what the problem was, noting that to hold a major sales event is not to pretend that there aren’t others in the year.

On the subject of Black Friday doom and gloom…

Only one third of retailers optimistic about Black Friday

Royal Mail Parcels found that just a third of retailers feel positively about the prospects of Black Friday trading this year. Furthermore, the research suggests that only 19% of senior decision makers are optimistic about the discounting event.

For a view of what really happened this Black Friday and Christmas, join us at our Christmas trading review Data Breakfast, Christmas Logistics Breakfast and Fashion Connect 2018, where we’ll be revealing results form our exclusive Christmas and Black Friday benchmark.

And yet more Black Friday news…

An 8am peak predicted for Black Friday searches

Research  by Summit has indicted that 8am on 24 November will see the peak in searches for Black Friday deals.

The analysis also suggests that:

  • mobile searches will peak between 8-9am
  • tablet based searches will peak between 9pm and 10pm

Martin Corcoran, head of insight at Summit: “Retailers need to understand the role each device plays in the Black Friday journey. Mobile is of increasing importance during the morning commute, as customers rush to get the best offers. However, in the evening shoppers prefer to ‘dual screen’ and this is where paid media supports TV advertising which acts as an important buying trigger, sending people online while they watch TV.” 

We also published our Black Friday online retail sales forecast this week.

Christmas Spend to drop?

IHS Markit research for Visa has indicated that 2017 might see the first drop in Christmas retail spend for 5 years.

Mark Antipof, Visa chief commercial officer: “Looking back, consumers were in a sweet spot in 2016 – low inflation and rising wages meant there was a little extra in household budgets to spend on the festive period.

“This year has seen a reversal of fortunes – with inflation outpacing wage growth and the recent interest rate rise leaving shoppers with less money in their pockets.

“Although overall sales are likely to disappoint, we expect some clear winners to emerge. Online and mobile are set to take a record share of Christmas spending.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer delivers Budget

The Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered the Budget today, Some key points:

  • VAT threshold for small business to remain at £85,000 for two years
  • A further £2.3bn allocated for investment in research and development
  • Increase in R&D tax credit to 12%
  • Rises in business rates to be pegged to CPI measure of inflation, not RPI

After her government-backed ‘Save the High Street’ Campaign failed, Mary Portas called on the Chancellor to freeze business rates. Retail chief executives made similar calls.

BrightHouse restructuring almost agreed

Rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse is reportedly near to settling on a restructuring deal. The agreement would see Vision Capital reduce its stake to 3%, and a consortium take control of the business, taking on £220m of debt in exchange for equity.

The restructure is subject to the approval of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

IMRG Online Retail Sales Index published

The IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Sales Index was published this week, revealing a 12.6% growth in year-on-year online retail sales.

The Index also found:

  • Month-on-month growth was 5.8%
  • The average basket value (excl. Travel) was £94 in October 2017, an increase of £3 since October 2016
  • The average conversion rate in October was 4.4%, which is towards the low end of expectations, but within the annual trendline

Amazon to enter convenience meal market

Amazon is looking to expand its UK food offering further with ‘prepared food kits’. The kits have been available in the US for four months, and Amazon has claimed the slogan ‘We Prep. You Cook’ in anticipation of the UK launch.

In the US, Amazon’s ready meals sell for between $15.99 and $19.99.

John Lewis treats John Lewis

The beleaguered civilian with the Twitter handle @johnlewis, who receives thousands of tweets meant for the retailer (@johnlewisretail), faces another seasonal deluge of commentary about Christmas adverts.

Last year, to thank John Lewis the man for his help, patience, and good humour, John Lewis the retailer sent him a personalised cushion.

This year, Mr Lewis received a bumper haul, with a Moz the Monster toy, a Google Home, Christmas lights, and cake with an image of his face on it.

“999, what’s the score?”

A desperate West Ham supporter has discovered the difference between his and 999’s definition of ‘emergency’.

The fan called the police on Saturday after his team lost 2-0 away to Watford. West Ham have now suffered seven Premier League defeats this season, and the distressed match-goer called 999 because he “didn’t know what to do”.

Essex Police were quick to remind the public that they are unable to assist a struggling football team.

The match was David Moyes’ first in charge of the Hammers, and sees the team struggling in the relegation zone.

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