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RETAILTECHNOLOGY Technology maximises retail opportunity

Editor Miya Knights t: 07810 648 706

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elcome to the July/August 2012 edition of Retail Technology magazine. In UK retail, just as is

often the case in the media and publishing too, summer is seen as a quiet period, a providing welcome respite between seasonal promotions and holidays. However, this year has seen a lot more retail technology-related activity in the run up to the the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations as well as the London 2012 Olympic Games. While the jury is still out on the potential of this summer’s bumper roster of events to boost sales, brand and retail owners have proved that they are keen to invest in IT in order to make the most of any opportunity in terms of the uplift in visitors and footfall it might bring. Our annual ‘EPoS, instore technology and digital signage’ (page 13) and ‘Retail communications’ (page 25) features build on the Jubilee and Olympic opportunity theme, where we throw a spotlight on the retail store implementations and the processes by which internal and customer-facing operations can best attract and convert visitors into paying customers. These implementation examples may not be able to drive customers through retail doors, but they give them a better chance of capitalising on any increase in footfall. The latest results from the Retail Traffic

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Index (RTI), which monitors the volume of shoppers in non-food stores across the UK, shows just why retailers may be hedging their bets. It continued to record disappointing national footfall levels in July, with a 5.2% year- on-year decline. Although footfall remained very fragile on Britain’s High Streets at the beginning of summer, the Index also indicated that the past two months signs have been slightly more encouraging. A strong end to June, brought on by a break in the rain and the launch of the summer sales, carried on into the first for tnight of July. The RTI, compiled by Ipsos Retail Performance, found that footfall for the month as a whole ended 5.3% stronger over June. Dr Tim Denison, head of retail intelligence

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at Ipsos Retail Performance, stated: “The summer sales helped to keep some momentum going after the Jubilee week in June, underlining the belief that consumers are prepared to go shopping when they have good occasion to do so. Although the summer months are less critical than some others for the retail sector, another improved shopping

month in August will help give retailers hope and some grounds to believe that the next impor tant month in the calendar -- back-to- school September -- will also be better.” Despite no repor ted improvement in

consumer confidence, as shown in the Ipsos-MORI’s Economic Optimism Index that flatlined in July, Ipsos agreed that special events were playing an impor tant par t in nudging footfall upwards. “We are not yet seeing any sustained

uplift in the underlying trend when these special occasions are excluded, so we can be thankful for this summer of events,” said Denison. “There is much conjecture about the likely impact of the Games on retail sales and footfall. In truth it is too early to tell, but we can hope that they energise shoppers and build fur ther momentum.” Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics

sales data for June showed that big ticket items were back on the household shopping list; and Ernst & Young ITEM Club has forecast that real disposable income will rise by 1.5% in quar ter four of this year. “We are at last beginning to hear some

good news stories in retailing,” concluded Denison. “These are the sor ts of nuggets that help foster a belief that the end of the decline may be not too far down the track.” At least those retailers with modern and optimised IT systems can be sure that they have given themselves the best chances to capitalise and build on any summer sales success.

Miya Knights Editor

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