Toys “R” Us announce closure of all UK stores within weeks

Sian Traynor discusses an investigation piece in EN4News Print edition about recent retail closures on UK high streets. It comes with the announcement of Toys “R” Us UK store closures.

Discounted Winter clothes boosts Scotland’s February retail sales

Winter sale shoppers purchasing outdoor clothing helped to boost sales figures in Scotland this February, a report has revealed.

There was also an increase in food sales, with purchases of both groceries and drinks going up, which is partly linked to Valentine’s Day.

According to a report by the Scottish Retail Consortium, February’s total sales were up 0.7% compared to the same time last year.

Consumer’s were convinced by discounts to buy Winter clothes, according to the SRC | Image Credit: Scottish Grocer

Food sales increased by 3.5%, whereas non-food sales decreased by 1.6%.

These figures range from the end of January until 24 February, just before the ‘Beast from the East’ left shops with bare shelves.

David Lonsdale, SRC Director, said that although the increase was largely driven by food purchases, discount clothing and footwear convinced many shoppers to spend their money on winter and outdoor wear.

He said:

“This was once again driven by the food category, aided in part by grocery and drink sales associated with St Valentine’s Day, and by better sales of clothing and footwear spurred on by discounting of winter and outdoor wear.

“The polarisation between food and non-food retail sales was less marked than before, with the latter recording a much shallower rate of decline than over recent months.”

The director also stated that it is too soon to say whether “inflationary pressures” will effect Scottish shoppers over the next few months.

He added:

“Scotland’s shoppers face a number of headwinds over the coming months which may prove hard to shrug off and which could well crimp consumer spending, notably higher council and income taxes and with overall inflation continuing to outstrip the growth in wages.”

Total sales increased by 0.7% since this time last year | Image Credit: Scottish Retail Consortium

Craig Cavin, Head of Retail in Scotland at KPMG, believes that retailers in Scotland will be “cautiously optimistic” of these figures, stating:

“Indeed, total growth of 0.7 per cent in February is an accomplishment in the current retail environment.

“Performance in non-food sales was disappointing once again, as consumers continue to migrate online. This, teamed with rising costs for retailers, is continuing to put pressure on our high streets.

” Retailers will need to adapt and think of new ways to encourage spending over the next few months through focussing on a differentiated proposition and staying relevant to the consumer.”

The effects of the heavy snowfall on consumer’s purchases will be shown in next month’s report.

Do Online Sales Manipulate Buyers?

The other night I saw that Boohoo was having a fab sale – “20% off everything”. Oh, but I had to act fast: “Hurry ends 11pm!” it screamed at me, or more accurately, the millions of teens and young adults it targets… A countdown clock onscreen warned that the sale would be over in just 54 minutes and 37 seconds. “Hurry ends soon!” messages were plastered over the screen. I felt the looming pressure of the sale move my hand towards the checkout button.

I’m so glad I didn’t. The next morning I visited Boohoo again to mourn the deals I had missed out on. However, it didn’t even matter that the sale had ended as promised at 11pm, because it had started all over again. Once again I was told to hurry, because the exact same 20%-off-everything deal was going to end at midday. It was 9.06am and the website had reset the clock, telling me to “Hurry!” as I only had 2h 53m 14s left.

While anyone who has looked at sofas at DFS will be familiar with the never-ending sale, online retailers take it to another level. Every trick is used to raise the buyer’s pulse and SHOP NOW! There are only TWO SEATS LEFT on the flight. There are 27 PEOPLE currently watching this item. 84% OF ROOMS HAVE GONE.

Are all these claims bogus? Probably. Does anybody ever verify the claims? Probably not.

“The advertiser has created a false sense of urgency about the offer ending.”

My interest in Boohoo provoked some questions of Hilary Stephenson at agency Sigma, which analyses online retail. She told me, “Shoppers hate to feel they have missed out. Retailers capitalise on this with tactics that panic customers into completing their transaction before the offer is no longer on the table. This ‘limited duration’ technique is irresistibly persuasive to consumers, contributing to a sense of urgency and an underlying feeling of ‘buy it now or regret it later’.”

Is what they’re doing even legal? The Advertising Standards Authority wouldn’t comment directly on Boohoo, but they did say “creating an incentive to make a purchasing decision and using techniques that place an urgency and immediacy on things through countdown clocks and use of phrases such as “hurry now”, “act right now”, “hurry offer ends at XXX”, only to restart the sales offer the following day (and the days thereafter) could make the nature of the sale offer misleading, that is the advertiser has created a false sense of urgency about the offer ending.”

It’s a strange debate, whether Boohoo should be allowed to manipulatively panic people like this for their purpose, or whether we should all be more savvy and be able to see through their tactics.

In the meantime, I asked Boohoo to explain itself. It said the 20% off “is a promotion rather than a sale”, and that “the customer has the choice of using the 20% off code when they check out.” A weird reply – and no excuse for the spurious counting clock.

Black Friday deals not all they seem, says consumer group Which?

Bargain hunters hoping to find a deal this Friday have been advised to be wary as a new report shows some prices are no different to normal.

The advice from Which? said 60% of last year’s Black Friday deals were cheaper, or the same, at other times in the year.

Photograph: Mairi Mulhern

For almost half of the price cuts analysed in the report, the consumer group found the price was less in the December following Black Friday last year.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “Our research shows that although Black Friday can offer some great discounts, not all offers are as good as they seem.

“It’s easy to get swept along by hype and excitement on the day, so we recommend doing some preparation and research to help make sure you really are getting a good deal when shopping in the sales.”

The group’s advice is based on research into 35 popular tech products sold by the world’s largest retailers including Amazon, Currys PC World and Argos. The study was done over a year, starting 6 months prior to Black Friday 2016.

Consumers are predicted to spend £2.6bn this Friday on what has become one of the biggest days in the retail calendar in the last few years.

Currys PC World said it featured 4000 reduced products on Black Friday 2016 “with many items being their lowest ever price at that point in time”.

BlackFriday2

Photograph: Mairi Mulhern

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We offer many thousands of incredible deals around Black Friday representing millions of pounds of savings for our customers across a vast selection of products.”

As well as this an Argos spokesperson said: “Black Friday is a fantastic event which allows customers to choose from thousands of products which offer great value. This does not exclude these products from other sales or promotional activity at other times of the year.”


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What to expect from the 2016 Black Friday sales

With the infamous Black Friday sales hitting the UK for the 6th year running this weekend, thousands of tech deals, fashion discounts and travel extravaganzas are set to triumph stores nationwide.

So what deals can we expect for 2016?

 Technology

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Online giants Amazon have soared ahead of competitors by releasing their Black Friday goods 12 days early. Over a thousand Amazon Marketplace sellers are due to take part in the sale by slashing the prices on everything from HD TVs, GoPro accessories, Apple products and more.

Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager at Amazon said: “In response to positive customer feedback for Black Friday deals, we are introducing The Black Friday Sale – 12 days of fantastic deals on must-have gifts and products, saving our customers millions of pounds.”

EBay and Argos are also due to be major players in the tech sales with up to 50% off expected throughout. EBay are offering the Sony CMTS20BMK Sound System for just £99.99, while Argos have revealed a £60 saving on the Apple iPhone 6s.

 

Fashion and Beauty

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To make your Christmas spending that little bit easier, many fashion retailers are offering four days of deals from Friday, right through to Cyber Monday.

Customers can expect price-crashing deals with the likes of high street leaders Topshop and French Connection offering up to 50% off clothing goods.

Boots and The Body Shop are also getting on board by offering half price cuts on hundreds of selected beauty items.

 

Travel

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Thinking of jetting off during the dreary British winter? Airlines and travel agents are set to release staggering price drops with major flight operators previously offering £2 one way flights to Europe.

With Thomson, Thomson Cruises and First Choice being likely to offer promotional codes over the weekend, some firms, however, will simply cut prices across the board. Last year British Airways Holidays offered £100 off all standard bookings.

Virgin Trains will also be offering 200,000 discounted tickets, with standard tickets on offer from £5, £10 and £15.

 

 

Expanding retailer at Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Airport retailer created 44 new jobs. Image courtesy of flikr/Matte Doni

Edinburgh Airport retailer created 44 new jobs. Image courtesy of Matte Doni/ Flickr

Edinburgh Airport is seeing an increase in job opportunities as World Duty Free doubles the size of its store  in the capital’s airport.

The travel retailer has expanded, creating dozens of new jobs. The store has hired 44 more staff  as it moves to a larger premises in the airport.

With outlets across the UK, World Duty Free is one of the most popular stores among travellers. They have sites in Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

The branch has a wide range of products on offer, including cosmetics, perfume, fashion accessories, spirits and souvenirs.

Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar stated in a press release:

“This fantastic World Duty Free store doubling in size is a great example of how we have listened to our passengers and have delivered greater choice to improve the constantly evolving Edinburgh Airport experience.”

 

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