One thing’s for sure: there’s certainly no point spending too long over-analysing this year’s Christmas trading figures.
God help those of you, like my friend Sir Stuart at M&S, who have to spend far too many precious trading hours telling the world and his wife what happened and why.
I mean, what’s to tell? Our customers had less money to spend this year than last. This isn’t going to change for a while, so we might as well focus on creating the truly outstanding products that our customers will buy even when times are tough. It’s this sort of retail challenge that really turns me on.
I also love the optimism that a new year brings. I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of girl, but with the added enthusiasm that comes with planning the year ahead, I find myself re-energised and raring to go.
I get excited by innovation and love reading about the latest micro-trends and then watching them spread around the world, fuelled by a combination of technology and other people’s desire to share something new, cool or amusing with their real and Facebook friends. Of course, my primary interest is in picking the trends that will have the biggest influence on our business. So what will they be this year?
Well, the mantra of smaller and thinner will no doubt continue to drive technology in general and media hardware in particular. It’s safe to say that this won’t extend to our best-selling products, for which bigger is for the most part, still better.
That said, the continuing trend of the convergence of media and portability is one we’ve embraced with our in-car rechargeable rabbit and the iGasm – a gadget that vibrates to the sound of your iPod. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to how much fun our iTouch will be.
The growth of laptop shopping, now available by wi-fi just about everywhere, will further place logistics and the ability to deliver a consistent service right at the fore of business priorities. The unstoppable growth of the internet will also see more brands come to the conclusion that they can sidestep our stores and go direct to our customers.
With more than 700,000 cosmetic operations last year, many more customers will soon decide that a nip and tuck is a better investment than the latest anti-ageing, body firming creams. I’m told that the average bra size in the UK is now 34D. With a significant percentage of these operations being breast enlargement, British boobs will only get bigger, so fashion and lingerie brands will have to cut their cloth accordingly.
As soon as someone does a proper job marketing these services in the cheaper, emerging economies to which EasyJet and Ryanair fly, the only thing customers will question will not be the skill of the surgeon, but the carbon footprint of their eye lift. They’ll also save a few quid by having fewer bags to pay for on their return flight.