It is said that there are two sorts of predictions: the lucky and the wrong. But I thought I should try my luck.
It is said that there are two sorts of predictions: the lucky and the wrong. But I thought I should try my luck. I last did this in Retail Week two years ago, predicting that 2011 would feature continued low interest rates, a “long-awaited, but still distant” recovery, growth in the value sector, difficult re-financings and few private equity deals. Maybe I should reprint that column now?
According to Capital Economics, GDP will grow in 2013 by 0.5%, CPI by 1.6%, average earnings by 1.6%, and there will be a 0.5% increase in real household disposable income. It all adds up to another depressing retail year.
So, with tongue very firmly in cheek, here are some less likely predictions:
- January: fourth-quarter growth stops and the outlook weakens. Chancellor George Osborne blames the weather and tough Olympic comparatives.
- February: the Bank of England keeps interest rates at a record low. However, several retailers go into administration as banks call in loans, claiming they need the money to advertise how much they are lending to British businesses.
- March: figures show etail continues to take share from bricks and mortar. Marks & Spencer has another look at buying Ocado, but decides a store refit programme is more important.
- April: retailers look beyond their next lease renewal to challenge their store portfolio. Secondary locations continue to decline, and the BRC calls for downwards-only rent reviews. Argos reiterates that it won’t close stores until leases expire, but renames them ‘Collection and Return Centres’.
- May: retailers stop proclaiming that they are multichannel as someone points out that being online has been an essential part of retail for several years.
- June: Morrisons says it has embraced the 21st century by developing a multichannel strategy.
- July: Ocado eventually opens its second distribution centre, claiming that single channel is better than multichannel. It then runs into supply constraints and blames having only one channel.
- August: Tesco announces plans to withdraw from the US, but claims the cost was worth it to develop Fresh & Easy as a global brand.
- September: Mary Portas is made a Dame for services to the PR industry.
- October: retailers realise that the quality of home delivery is as important as having a fancy website. Next-day delivery becomes the norm and same-day delivery the fastest growing option.
- November: the Office of Fair Trading starts an investigation into Amazon, claiming it has discovered evidence that the internet can be used to buy things.
- December: Sainsbuy’s boss Justin King decides not to succeed Bernie Ecclestone at Formula 1, preferring instead to follow Rafa Benitez in managing Chelsea Football Club.
Simon Laffin, independent retail adviser and non-executive director