It would appear that Britain's shoppers trimmed their spending on electronics and jewellery last month as retail sales slipped by 0.4%, highlighting the fact that retailers are looking at a tough Christmas again this year. In fact, The Office for National Statistics reported that sales volumes were 0.4% lower in November than a month earlier – though that only partly reversed October's 1% rise. On an annual basis, volumes were 0.7% up on the same month in 2010.
Christmas time is vital for most retailers and the 0.4% drop in sales volumes in November indicates that they are having their work cut out to get pressurised and worried consumers to spend.
However, the average weekly spending online has increased by almost £200m in the past year, from £593m in November 2010, to £787.9m last month. It now accounts for 12.2% of all retail sales, excluding petrol. Bear also in mind that so far this year we have not had the weather problems (Yet) that added to retailers misery last year where more and more customers decided to buy online.
It's pretty obvious that online retailing is growing and growing. It's easier, more convenient, and in most cases you save money. You can even do your shopping from the comfort of your own workplace (In lunch time of course) leaving you more social time at the weekends. Unfortunately, the result of this will inevitably mean the demise of more retail businesses as the trend continues. Undoubtedly, the bigger businesses will restructure and ultimately embrace online retailing, but what about those small to medium sized businesses who are watching their livelihood slipping away?
If your business falls into this category, don't fall into the trap of "toughing" it out or convincing yourself that things will get better. They won't. You need to act now! You need to re-evaluate your online selling strategy, either improve your website so it reflects a professional company, or if you haven't got a website, where have you been? And once you are up and running you need to embrace the dreaded SEO to help your site climb the rankings.
An excellent, optimised (On and off site) website will certainly propel you up the rankings. The biggest mistake though that people make, is that as soon as their website is published, they expect the money to roll in. It won't! At least not immediately. It takes time for Google to index it. If you have left it until the last minute to launch your online presence hoping that it will prevent your company going into liquidation, then you have wasted both your time and money. You need to act NOW! Get hold of a professional online marketing company and plan your strategy, then do it! It may be the best business decision you've ever made.
Thanks to The Guardian and Internet Retailing Net for the stats.