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RETAIL


COLLABORATION


THE CHANGING SHOPPING HABITS OF CONSUMERS, COUPLED WITH DIFFICULT TRADING CONDITIONS HAVE SEEN HIGH STREET – AND GENERAL RETAIL PRACTICES – UNDERGO MAJOR CHANGES RECENTLY. SP LOOKS AT THE EFFECT THIS IS HAVING ON PHARMACY…


PHARMACY THINKS OUTSIDE THE BOX


RETAIL:


There’s no doubt that the face of retail has changed dramatically over the last few years. Once-bustling high streets are steadily seeing shoppers turn increasingly to outlying ‘one- stop-stores’, with easy parking and everything under one roof.


While trading conditions have become difficult for many independent retailers, community pharmacists are left in an even more difficult position since, in addition to acting as medicine dispensers, today’s community pharmacies also have to perform in the retail arena.


So, how do community pharmacies attract customers into their premises in what is already a difficult trading environment? And what measures are they taking to increase footfall in their pharmacies?


As with every region in the UK, Scotland’s high street retail environment is becoming increasingly


46 - SCOTTISH PHARMACIST fraught with difficulties.


According to the BRC Scottish Retail Sales Monitor and BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, despite the fact that Edinburgh’s retail sales grew by 0.3 per cent in January this year compared to last year, retailers across Scotland as a whole noted a contraction in turnover of 3.5 per cent in the same period.


‘These are somewhat dreich retail sales results for January,’ said David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, commenting on the Scottish figures, ‘showing a dip of nearly two per cent even when falling shop prices are taken into account. After the extravagances of the festive period, which saw solid sales growth in December, and indeed during the final few months of last year, shoppers were clearly keeping a firmer grip on purses and wallets in January, and focusing more on essential spending


as lower footfall data for the period suggested.’


Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said that it had been a fairly consistent picture across the UK and ‘across different retail locations; with the high street, which saw a modest bounceback the previous month, failing to draw in shoppers. January’s sluggish non-food sales, which undoubtedly corresponded with the dip in footfall below last year, go some way to explaining these underwhelming figures. Stores bore the brunt of the sales slowdown; posting their deepest three-month decline on record as online was the preferred shopping channel for the month’s clearance sales.’


In December, the LCD/University of Stirling Retail Report had also shown that:


• Scotland’s town centre vacancy


rates were slightly above the British average at 11.7 per cent


• Retail vacancy rates for retail parks and shopping centres fell, but are still the highest of the GB countries


• Convenience retailing was on the increase


• Persistent vacancy fell in many towns, though some continue to see rates in excess of fifteen per cent


So, with falling footfall as a result of post-Brexit reluctance to spend, the increase in online shopping and the rise of the out-of-town supermarkets, how are community pharmacists managing to bring the shopper in through the pharmacy doors?


When it comes to the retail side of his business, Gordon Winter’s Dalston Pharmacy in Lockerbie is facing the nightmare scenario faced by many small retailers in today’s market. Nevertheless, despite the fact that it is faced with a cut-price store across the road and a supermarket chain around the corner, Dalston Pharmacy still enjoys a vibrant retail section mainly due to what Gordon describes as the ‘added value’ of one-to-one service that isn’t available in the supermarket or cut-price story environment.


‘If you look at complementary therapies and vitamin/mineral ranges in particular,’ Gordon says, ‘there’s no doubt that in today’s market pharmacies like mine are facing competition from not only


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