The Britpop Revival in UK Retail
Memory is subjective and never more so when you think about music.
Millennials won’t believe it but there was a time when the only place to hear the music you wanted was to wait until the new chart shows came on on Sunday afternoons. If you wanted to hear them again, you had to go through the tricky process of taping them either with an inbuilt recorder or holding one close to the radio’s speakers, leaving you a hostage to noisy pets and relatives walking in.
Experts could refine the process so far that they were adept at pressing the pause button during ads for long-gone local garages and the DJ’s blathering on at the beginning and the end of the track you wanted.
There’s also a lot of revisionism goes on when it comes to the popularity of music, especially back in the day.
Take Britpop in the mid-90s. Listen to any talking head who was around at the time and you’d think Cool Britannia was akin to the opening sequence of an Austin Powers film – hundreds of models in Union Jack mini-dresses swaggering about in London with Burberry scarves before staggering out of the Groucho Club.
Chris Evans presenting every TV and radio show and interviewing whichever Gallagher brother his studio gang could lasso in for five minutes before a live performance from a four-piece named after material (Suede, Denim, Corduroy and Menswear).
You’d think 1995 was the epitome of hip until you realise the biggest selling recording artists of the year were actually Robson and Jerome.
In fact Robson and Jerome spent more time as the number one album than Different Class, The Great Escape, The Charlatans and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Combined.
Memory is very rarely actuality and so it is with the various barometers and indicators that give you an idea of the relative economic health of the country.
There’s GDP, PMI, industry and sector surveys and general opinion polls. There’s also the evidence of your own eyes when you’re checking your bank accounts or walking down the high street or in a local shopping centre.
So the news from the British Retail Consortium, who represent the UK’s high street retailers, might not come as a huge surprise when they reveal that it’s been the worst September for sales since 1995 .
The tale of the tape underlines this stark finding:
- Total year-on-year retail sales in September decreased by 1.3%
- Average monthly retail sales growth shrank to 0.2% – the lowest ever recorded
- Like-for-like retail sales reduced by 1.7% – the lowest 12-month average since August 2009
- From July to September, in-store sales of non-food items fell by 3.2% on both a total and like-for-like basis. This is worse than the 12-month Total average decline of 2.9%
BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson OBE pins the blame on the usual suspects of Brexit and an unusually warm summer.
“With the spectre of a no-deal weighing increasingly on consumer purchasing decisions, it’s no surprise that sales growth has once again fallen into the red.
“Many consumers held off from non-essential purchases, or shopped around for the bigger discounts, while the new autumn clothing ranges suffered from the warmer September weather.
“The longer term prospect continues to be bleak, with the 12-month average once again plumbing new depths at a mere 0.2%. Online non-food sales growth was the lowest on record, though still compared favourably to the decline in growth at physical stores.”
Dickinson also warned that a disorderly Brexit would cause serious disruption:
“With four months of negative sales growth since March, the ongoing political gridlock surrounding Brexit is harming both consumers and retailers. Clarity is needed over our future trading relationship with our closest neighbours, and it’s vitally important that Britain does not leave the EU without a deal.”
If you think your business is doing well but you’ve gotten a shock when you’ve consulted your sales figures or accounts – get in touch.
Our expert team of advisors will have a free initial consultation with you to talk through where you are, where you want to be and work with you to come up with the most efficient and realistic way to get from here to there.