Changing trends in the Retail and Restaurant Sectors in 2019

A topical comment on the retail sector from Director, James Butcher.

It’s difficult to appreciate, after sweltering in temperatures hitting mid-30 degrees that Christmas is just over 100 days away with Selfridges being the first retailer worldwide to open its festive shop – on July 29. 

Traditionally the trading period in the run-up to Christmas was make or break time for retailers and restaurateurs. We only have to see the effort and expense that John Lewis puts into its Christmas advert to understand the importance of this period for retailers.

However, the  retail world continues to see a perfect storm of problems, which have turned the sector on its head, to the point where a good festive trading period will no longer save the year.

The growth of the internet coupled with a fall-off in consumer confidence - as economic uncertainties created by the ongoing Brexit saga drag on – have created unprecedented trading conditions. 

It is difficult to shake-off the doom and gloom as one retailer after another reports trading difficulties and shares its plans to enter a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA).  

It is important, however,  to look beyond these gloomy stories and consider that there are plenty of retailers and restaurateurs that are bucking the negative trend to report upbeat trading figures and future expansion plans.

These include well-known sector retailers and operators, such as Next, B&M, Joules, Seasalt, Greggs, JD Sports and Wagamama. 

The demise of some traditional high street names has opened the market to a wider variety of niche and specialist retailer and food outlets.  We are finding that landlords are more receptive to these businesses as tenants than they might have been historically. 

This is providing consumers with something different that they can’t buy online.  Retailers that fail to grasp changing consumer habits and how today is all about providing an experience for shoppers – not just selling a product or service – will continue to struggle in this changing world. 

The new Cornhill Quarter in Lincoln City Centre offers a good snapshot of a successful retail centre - with its  mix of well-known High Street names, retail newcomers and great leisure offer. Next year, The Cosy Club will be joined by Everyman Cinema and The Botanist – combining well to meet shoppers’ changing demands. 

We cannot ignore the difficult conditions for retailers and restaurateurs, but if they embrace and adapt to consumers’ evolving needs, we will continue to see both trading successfully on our High Street.