Debenhams and M&S have both reported a fall in sales during the crucial Christmas trading period, down 5.7% and 2.2% respectively. The Highstreet giants have attributed the decline mainly to a shift in peoples spending habits, suggesting consumers left their Christmas shopping later this year, waited for the sales or generally spent less at Christmas.

Stories of well-established retailers suffering huge losses, store closures and redundancies have plagued news headlines in the last year. The tough 2018 retail climate saw several major retailers enter administration or announce consolidation programmes. Mothercare, Pound World and Carphone Warehouse all fell victim, whilst chain restaurants such as Carluccio’s, Prezzo and Byron also closed many of their outlets.

In a recent study conducted by the Local Data Company (LDC), a retail intelligence business which provides data, insight and technology to support strategic decision making on the retail and leisure market, it found the number of retail and leisure closures increased by 16.9% in H1 2018, compared to H1 2017.

Pubs and retailers selling electric goods were the top retail and leisure categories to decline in H1 2018. Online competition and saturated market places were two confounding factors, highlighting how important it is for retailers to offer their customers something more.

But not everything is in decline.

The same survey found barbers and beauty salons to be the top growing retail and leisure categories in H1 2018, showing promise for the sector and outlining a shift in consumer demands.

Undoubtedly, the retail and leisure market is a turbulent one. However, it is these conditions that allow for new entrants and concepts to flourish. It’s more important than ever that businesses adapt to changing consumer habits, and really listen to what their consumers want.

Here at Smith Cooper, we understand that changing market places can cause financial pressures. Ultimately, time is of the essence. We work with individuals and organisations in a range of sectors, dealing with a range of circumstances to provide candid, proactive commercial advice on your options when you need it most. If you would like to hear more, get in touch today.