Are retailers really out the wood despite positive ONS news?


Despite the positive news from ONS on the rebound in retail sales for July, it is clear that there is still a long way to go for the sector and they are not yet out of the woods – preparation is key, as is the ability to react quickly and effectively to future disruption.  Matthew Woodcock, Director at LLamasoft, had the following to say.

“Retail sales are making a comeback – reaching pre-pandemic levels in July. However, despite the positive news from ONS, they are not out of the woods yet. Clothing sales are still 25.7 per cent lower than February, indicating the ongoing shift to online shopping and less people on the high street.

“There are however fears that it is only temporary. In addition, uncertainty of a second wave and resulting lockdown mean maintaining the ability to react quickly and effectively will be key to overcoming any future disruption. Embedding the appropriate tech into decision-making systems is a must, our recent research shows that 73% of retailers believe AI can add significant value to their demand forecasting.

Retail success has previously been based on a company’s operational excellence and economic advantage, however, recent events mean that agility is now essential. Unfortunately, this is something retailers struggle with, in fact, our recent research found that 56% have a problem responding to disruptions. If the industry is to maintain any sort of positive sales growth or face a potential second wave, then investment in technology will be crucial to their survival.”