With Christmas just around the corner, magazines and newspapers are filled with reflections on the year that was and how things may shape up as we plunge into the new year

With Christmas just around the corner, magazines and newspapers are filled with reflections on the year that was and how things may shape up as we plunge into the new year. One thing seems clear; there are considerably fewer shops in the UK as the year draws to a close than there were at the same point at the end of 2011.

This should mean less competition and therefore bigger slices of the cake to be enjoyed. Well, up to a point, except that the cake has diminished in many sectors and, while there are exceptions, think technology and certain parts of the food retail spectrum, the competitive outlook for 2013 looks even more stringent than in 2012.

Some believe that the past year has been a case of one door closing as another one shuts, but talking over the past few weeks to those who know about such things, it appears that 2013 will be the year in which customers set the agenda for retailers, rather than the other way around. This may not be as bad as it sounds.

Those in the vanguard appear convinced that being closer to your customer means letting them tell you what is needed and how to act.

All of which notwithstanding, it is Christmas, so this issue of Retail Week Interiors brings news of the yuletide displays in Paris, which look better than London’s offer this year.

Further afield, we visit a new development in Kazakhstan – one of western retailing’s bold new frontiers.

Closer to home we have features on EAT, Starbucks and that hardy perennial of British fashion, Dr Martens.

And a fortnight from now, the first Christmas trading statements will begin to appear. Let’s hope it has proved a merry Christmas on the high street. It seems certain that there will be as many surprises in 2013 as there have been this year.

Season’s greetings.  

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