Retailers are in between a rock and a hard place right now. Sales rose 1.4% last month, however sales volumes fell 0.3% in the three months to April when compared with the previous quarter. This shows that the cost-of-living crisis is truly taking effect, as consumers cut back on spending in the face of spiralling inflation. Retailers too are being affected by product price increases and rising energy costs, but they risk alienating consumers altogether if they hike prices up too much.
Better weather and the summer holiday season will provide a lift in the short term, but something has to give to iron out bumps in the road ahead.
There’s a lot of talk about a universal online sales tax, but ultimately this isn’t nuanced enough to reflect the variety in modern retail platforms, which encompass both digital and physical platforms. Instead, retailers must be creative with how they can soften the blow to consumer spending patterns – for example, looking at ways for consumers to indulge in products without paying full price for items, by offering subscription or rental models.