Slowdown brings focus on store improvements

UK high street retailers are hoping to weather the slowdown in consumer spending by improving the look of stores, rather than increasing marketing spend or discounting product, a new report reveals.

In a survey by corporate recovery adviser Grant Thornton's retail regeneration team, 42 per cent of respondents cited improvements in store presentations and store refurbishment as a key strategy this year. This contrasts with just 2 per cent planning to increase marketing spend.

Only 8 per cent seemed to take cost control seriously. 'Cost containment in times of a difficult environment is relied on to give scope to invest in other strategies,' said Mark Byers, head of Grant Thornton's retail regeneration team. 'The danger is when retailers invest in store improvements without focusing on cost control at the same time.'

Of the retailers aiming to improve gross margins, 27 per cent said reducing stock losses by reducing waste was a priority, followed by 17 per cent incentivising staff and 17 per cent improving product mix.