Maybe it isn’t as bad as it seems?

There’s a huge amount of publicity surrounding closing retailers, for example, Toys R Us went into administration and closed all stores earlier this year. The brand received a whole host of press and in-turn, the retail sector was presented as going through a ‘tough period’ and on a ‘downward trend’.

However, maybe that was more related to Toys R Us and the brands offering to be outdated, rather than a struggling retail environment? Parents are still treating their children, even though downloading apps is increasing in popularity, kids still want toys, which is proven by successful retailers such as The Entertainer and Argos.

A recent article from the BBC discusses the lack of imagination and drama in Toys R Us stores and the brand failing to deliver the same experience as successful competitors such as Lego or Disney. The consumer experience is vital across the retail sector and it’s the same for all ages: children want to engage with stores, which has meant retailers who are complacent, simply having the ‘on trend’ toys in stock, won’t succeed in today’s retail climate.

It seems that bad news is all we are witness to, but there are plenty of positive stories out there proving the market isn’t as bad as it may seem…

JD Sports opened 36 new stores last year and has reported strong sales and improved growth over the past year. The company posted a 15% increase in total sales (including newly opened shops) in the 48 weeks to January 5th 2019.

For the 2019 financial year, The H&M group plan to open around 335 new stores, of which around 240 will be H&M stores. Around 95 of the year’s store openings will be COS, & Other Stories, Monki, Weekday, ARKET and Afound stores.

Easy Bathrooms are continuing their expansion across the UK with stores to open in Bradford and Glasgow this year. Neil Bell, Head of Retail for Easy Bathrooms, said: “During a period when there’s plenty of doom and gloom surrounding the UK high street, we are proud to expand and open bricks and mortar stores, alongside growing our online presence. Both Glasgow and Bradford are former units of businesses which went into administration, so we’re delighted to fill these spaces and help revive local high streets.”

Discount retailer B&M plans to open a store a week for the next few years – the majority being in the south – taking their total number of stores over 950 in the UK. The expansion comes following a significant increase in revenue and enjoying good rates on retail space due to the decline of certain brands.

In addition to expanding retailers, online only players are entering the physical market, proving the rise of experiential shopping and demand for bricks and mortar. Hero found that 67% of once purely e-commerce brands launched a physical store or showroom between 2016 – 2017. In addition, JLL predicts a further 850 stores to open in the next 5 years from digitally native brands alone.

The headlines seem to be filled with negative news, however, there is plenty of positive activity. Whilst many retailers are struggling, there are plenty of successes and growth to celebrate. From a recruitment perspective, we have continued to see a healthy volume of roles coming through as retailers continue to grow and develop their teams, proving the strength within the market.

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