A leading industry analyst has said retailers need to remove as many barriers as possible to help drive consumer confidence in order to weather the economic storm in the wake of Brexit.
Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle told the Retail Gazette that the best way for the sector to weather the economic storm after last week’s referendum is to “make it easier for people to shop by getting rid of all the barriers” in place.
“They need to find ways to enable people to spend easily,” she said.
“They need to look at fashion prices, opening hours, manage staff properly and improve customer service.”
She added that barriers around flexible shopping options, such as pick and collect or same day delivery, also need to be relaxed.
According to data collected by Springboard, the GFC of 2010 had the greatest impact in retail, with a drop in footfall of -2 per cent overall and -4.7 per cent in the high street.
Footfall has been in negative territory every year since then, partly a function due to changing shopping habits from the growth of etail, household income constraints and the concomitant reduction of consumer spending.
The retail performance analyst group said it was only in 2014 that footfall started to improve slightly, driven by an uplift in footfall in retail parks.
Wehrle stressed it was “far too early” to say what impact Brexit would have on the retail industry or if it could be worse than the impact of the GFC.
However, she welcomed Chancellor George Osbourne’s speech this morning that called for calm and a business-as-usual approach for the UK, as the nation heads into a period of economic and political uncertainty before Article 50 is invoked by whoever replaces David Cameron as Prime Minister in autumn.
“Anything to ensure consumer confidence is a good thing for retail,” she said.
Wehrle also believes the 52 per cent of Britons who voted to leave the EU could help boost the economic performance of retailers in the short and long term future.
“The people who would spend their money are the people who voted for Brexit,” she told Retail Gazette.
“They are the ones who feel confident about the future.”