This was revealed by Louise Young - Divisional Director at Autumn Fair International which conducted an online survey of close to 1,000 UK retailers. Autumn Fair, organised by i2i Events Group, is one of the largest retail trade exhibitions in the UK, second only to sister event Spring Fair International.
Louise Young says, “A majority of retailers are more optimistic than pessimistic but I would add that no-one is being complacent. Economic conditions remain volatile and that can have an immediate knock-on effect on consumer confidence. So I would say that successful retailers are very focussed around making their businesses and brands attractive to consumers, ensuring that they have strong online offerings, great customer service and very competitive prices”.
The Olympics proved to be a fantastic success for the Games, for visitors and for London. Despite a big build-up of expectation before the Games which led many people to believe that there could be a major boost to retail sales across London and UK, it however did not prove to be good for the retailers.
Louise reveals, “The hype did not turn in to reality unfortunately, even though trade picked up considerably in the second week of the Games. On reflection, the pattern of trade seems to have followed that of previous Olympics. What I think will happen though is that London in particular will see a big, longer-term benefit as tourists come to the city having seen it on the TV coverage of the Games”.
Pamela Shiffer of who manages a high-end boutique in Regent Park of an eponymous name says bitterly, “My expectations during the Olympics were that we might see a rise in tourists visiting local areas, but, sales during the August period were the worst on record. Not only did we loose local business despite a holiday period, we didn't have any visitors from the Park and many other tourists were scared to come into London for fear of traffic jams”.
However, Janine O'Keefe who manages a boutique which stocks premium fashion labels on High Street in Surrey has a different take. She informs, “We had the Olympic cycling races passing right past our store on three separate days and made a big effort to support the UK team with our window display and also offering refreshments and special promotions which definitely helped increase our turnover”.
One more facet, the survey revealed is that, retailers are optimistic about Christmas trading season. Louise Young says, “For some time now, retailers and their customers have been under immense pressure with the continuing economic problems. But what our survey showed – is that there is a real sense that the coming Christmas trading period will be positive. It will of course be tough, but retailers know how hard they have to fight to offer compelling offers to their customers at the right price and with new and innovative product and brands”.
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