In a week with an avalanche of new retail data, it is easy to miss the big picture. The BRC data has a clear message: online is here to stay. Hasty predictions that online would continue to fall away as high streets reopened do not look to be the case. What we are seeing is a period of adjustment. Online shopping has certainly fallen in recent months, but it looks now to be settling at a level above where it was in early 2020.
But above it all, it is increasingly clear that retailers cannot shy away from the challenging terrain facing their customers. This week’s retail data underlines that the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis are likely to be an enduring check on spending in the months ahead.
When shoppers are struggling, it is vital that brands show empathy and appreciate the economic challenges, whether through personalised messaging or individualised discount offers. This trend has been a long time coming: new Iterable research found an increased expectation of new deals and promotions was a top shift in behaviour amongst customers in the last 12 months.
Brands need to take action to forge customer relationships that are able to withstand the pressures that lie ahead. This week, we have already seen Boots announce a freeze on the prices of 1500 products. More brands may well follow in the months ahead.