Last year saw the intensification of pre-existing trends in the needs and aspirations of UK shoppers. The relatively good performance of the food sector against the non food sector is one example, and is consistent with UK consumers’ growing emphasis on the quality of the food they consume, and in trading up to ‘better’ options, for a combination of health and feel good reasons.
Another trend in clear evidence was UK shoppers ever heightening expectations of value, convenience and quality. The John Lewis Group epitomised the success that flows from consistently delivering against these fundamental consumer needs.
Arguably the newest and fastest moving trend on the High Street was the rise of ethical and environmental activity. Henley Centre HeadlightVision’s own research shows that a majority of UK consumers have ethical and environmental concerns on their radar, but these concerns are not yet driving widespread and consistent changes in shopping habits. This gap between aspiration and actual behaviour is creating a window of opportunity for leading retailers to shape future shopping patterns. Marks and Spencer’s Plan A and high profile initiatives and commitments from Tesco and Sainsbury’s are the tip of the iceberg.
The congruence of the above trends will prove particularly interesting in what looks set to be a tougher economic environment on the High Street in 2008. To what extent will consumer motivations around health, indulgence and ethical concerns, among others, hold sway in the face of pressure on wallets? Which retailers will be most adept at navigating through this uncertain environment and emerging as winners? 2008 looks set to be a fascinating and challenging year for UK retailing. We can expect some drama on the British High Street this year.
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After 15 years we are closing but before we do so we specially wanted to write to all of you in Marjo and thank you for all your support over all these years. You have always been so helpful and Peter and I thank you for all your support.PD in Manchester
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