This morning’s ONS Retail Sales figures show that the volume of sales in June increased by 13.9% when compared with May 2020. This brings sales to a similar level as before the pandemic; however, there is a mixed picture in different store types.
Matthew Woodcock, Director at LLamasoft, a global AI and logistics solutions provider, told IT Supply Chain why he believes that retailers must stay vigilant and prepare for further disruption:
“As restrictions ease and customers slowly retake UK high streets, retail sales have rebounded strongly. This means supply chains are again having to react rapidly to changing consumer demands, as non-essential goods such as bikes, furniture, and paints become the most sought after items.
Although today’s news is positive, retailers should keep the champagne on ice. The reopening of shops has released a lot of pent-up demand, but whether this will be sustained is yet to be seen. In addition, the fears 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.”