The fact that UK retail sales volumes rose by 0.5% shows that shoppers have wasted little time getting out and spending. The Euros excitement has inevitably boosted this, with consumers making the most of the sunnier weather and newfound freedom to host guests, with the main driver of growth coming from food and drink sales.
This is welcome news, but retailers must take it with a pinch of salt. Despite the rise in activity following ‘Freedom Day’, we may see a petering off of brick-and-mortar sales as concerns about virus transmission are brought back to the front of shoppers’ minds. Physical retailers need to invest in creating a personalised, valuable experience that customers can be confident in. This goes further than just offering the products they need, by also providing the social, enjoyable and safe experience that so many are currently seeking. To achieve this, retailers need to invest in understanding their customers, by collecting and understanding consumer data through effective digital marketing engagement programmes.
Agility in the buying process will also be vital for retailers in the coming months. As the return to travel ensues and with staycations picking up, we will see heightened sales activity linked to summer clothing, shoes, and other holiday essentials. A busy July and August will be an opportunity to make back the considerable losses experienced over the past year before things calm down in September, but only if retailers have the stock ready. This preparedness will be difficult to achieve but can be helped along by analysis of consumer shopping patterns and behaviours, and even predictive AI and ML tools to forecast short-term demand.