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IT maximises recovery momentum I

t comes as a welcome change that the September/October issue of Retail Technology magazine comes on the crest of

a wave of a largely positive retail outlook. The Olympics may not have had as big a boost to sales or footfall as many had hoped, while consumers’ disposal income continues to be squeezed. But September did bring the first rise in retail footfall of 2012. The latest Retail Traffic Index (RTI) figures, released by Ipsos Retail Performance, showed that the number of shoppers in non-food stores increased by 1.2% in September against the same month in 2011. And although month-on- month store traffic was down by 4.8% on August, the third quarter as a whole put the RTI up 7.3% on the second quarter – well above the 4.4% seasonal average of the three previous years. “We have been seeing footfall gradually

returning to the shops as the year has worn on,” commented Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance. “The gap on last year has been steadily closing, and now, for the first time this year, we have recorded a month of growth.”

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The results from Ipsos are the latest metric to suggest that aspects of the economy are beginning to stabilise. The labour market is strengthening: the total number of jobs grew by more than a quarter of a million over the last three months and unemployment is in decline. Job vacancies are rising and redundancies falling. Retail sales are also continuing to grow, up 3.4% in September (total sales value) according to the BRC/KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. Denison was cautious however: “Let’s be clear, retailing is still hurting,” he added. “The number of retailers entering administration is once again on the rise, as a consequence of the continuing low level of demand, and margin sacrifice. The number of store units in the UK run by multiples has shrunk for the first time in history. But some key metrics are showing signs of improvement and we should be thankful for that.” With concerns that energy and commodity

Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations 6,749 Jan 11 – Dec 11

ISSN No 1359-0146

price increases, for example, could refuel inflation towards the end of the year, many retailers will be redoubling their focus on their supply chain in the run up to the key Christmas season. So our major, annual look at the technology developments and options that some leading retailers are already exploiting (page 13) should demonstrate how best to maximise efficiency and cost-effectiveness in this central operational area – especially as it will perhaps be more important this year than ever to make sure

warehouses and shelves are stocked with more products that shoppers actually want to buy. Store footfall is also not the only positive

indicator. With a disappointing summer coming to an end and the distractions of the Olympics over, e-retail has begun to pick up momentum in the lead up to Christmas. The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index recently revealed a solid performance for the online retail market for September, with the Index climbing 16% year-on-year and 11% on August. As a result, IMRG and Capgemini are now forecasting 15% growth for the fourth quarter and have raised their annual growth estimate one percentage point to 14% for 2012. Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, commented: “The difference in growth rates between online-only and multichannel retailers was just 3% for this month, narrowing a gap which opened up around one year ago. Also, the upward trend in mobile conversion rate indicates the steady infiltration of smartphones and tablets as a buying device now, which used to be more of a browsing tool in the past.” And this surge can certainly be reflected in the numbers of retail IT projects taking advantage of mobile payment technologies, instore and online, as evidenced in the ‘Money’ feature (page 25). So here’s hoping we can continue to bring

you both more inspirational and encouraging retail IT trends from now on.

Miya Knights Editor

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