Continued investment by UK retailers is key, says Eversheds’ James Batham

Eversheds has commented on the latest set of performance figures for the UK retail sector. James Batham, retail expert at the law firm, said continued investment by UK retailers is key.

He added: ‘Figures released by the British Retail Consortium indicated that, on a like-for-like basis, retail sales were up 0.4 per cent from the previous year, with total sales up 1.8 per cent for the same period.

‘Consumers appear to have more confidence and we can see this in the sale of cars and other comparatively expensive items, which is very encouraging. If the housing market moves further as expected by many, this could only further boost the confidence of shoppers.’

However, said Batham, on regular and more frequent purchases, consumers will continue to scrutinise offers and utilise the web to find those deals. ’Accordingly, the clear growth area remains online with a 19.2 per cent growth in internet purchases from December 2012 — the fastest increase since March 2010.

‘Shoppers are increasingly savvy and make the most of deals available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This continues to reinforce that retailers will need to invest in their omni-channel sales capabilities, embrace new technologies and reconcile their online with traditional high-street presence.

‘Retailers will continue to face difficult conditions in 2014 and those that are willing to innovate will be those that reap the rewards. After all, the sector is at its best when responding to a challenge.’