BHETA has recently entered into a great joint enterprise with GfK, one of the world’s leading research companies to produce the BHETA GfK Quarterly POS Index, which is an infographic of the latest EPOS data – by category – exclusively to BHETA members. As part of this relationship, Kelly Whitwick, GfK’s UK retail lead was speaking at the most recent BHETA forum and had this to say, based on GfK’s consumer confidence survey. Pointing out how pessimistic the British are versus other nations, she explained that fears about the macro economic situation are holding consumers back despite a relatively positive position on personal ability to spend.
So, there it is in a nutshell. We can look at the statistics and see shifts that can usually be attributed to seasonality, weather and one-off positives like World Cups and Royal weddings, and yet we know that the spending that drives growth and the economy as a whole may not really gain traction until some of the big and obvious uncertainties are resolved – one way or another.
This month as the extraordinary summer finally gave way to autumn and winter, food and alcohol, transport and recreation prices dropped, electricity and gas prices increased and there was an increase in gifting purchase such as jewelry and watches as we enter the Festive season. The underlying trend is all about volumes versus value, however. In September, the quantity bought declined by 0.8% when compared with August. Online sales as a proportion of all retailing fell slightly and British banks approved 38,505 mortgages for new house purchase below market expectations of 39,000. It is the lowest reading in six months and down by 6.7% from a year earlier.
In contrast, the headline when focusing on the topline categories in the home improvement and enhancement sectors is that we are seeing value growth more or less across the board even if volumes are down. Consumers are not put off it seems by premium price points – seeking out the best as opposed to the most.
The most significant topline growth has come from air treatment, up approx. 20% in value terms (compared to the benchmarked index of Jan – Dec 2017). Some of this we can put down to the summer’s hot weather, but it is also a response to the increasing importance of comfort and simplicity in terms of products most purchased these days. Another continuing winner is barware, which is sustaining its positive summer and it will be interesting to see how much of this growth can be maintained into the autumn months and more importantly the festive period.
Commentary from Will Jones, housewares sector director at BHETA.
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