Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 3rd January 2019
Retailers across the UK can expect to face tough trading conditions throughout 2019 regardless of how the Brexit process unfolds in the coming weeks and months.
That’s according to the think tank KPMG/Ipsos Retail, which has said that retail businesses should brace themselves for another challenging year.
Reasons cited to explain why trading might be so tough again for retailers this year include changing consumer behaviours, legacy debt, compliance costs and an oversupply of bricks and mortar outlets.
Some businesses are also thought to be struggling to find the right people to lead processes of structural change that might help them to compete and deliver profits more effectively and consistently.
Meanwhile, ongoing uncertainty about the potential consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union is believed to be dampening consumer confidence across the country and making it more difficult for retailers to increase their revenues.
However, experts from KPMG/Ipsos Retail have made clear their view that blaming the retail sector’s struggles on the Brexit situation alone is too simplistic and doesn’t tell the real story of what is happening within the industry.
“It is too easy to point the finger at Brexit as the singular cause of all the woes in the industry,” commented Paul Martin, head of UK retail at KPMG.
“There is in fact a much wider array of forces at play currently. These forces have been gathering momentum for a number of years and are by no means new.”
As 2019 begins, the advice given to retailers by the KPMG/Ipsos think tank is to focus on controlling what remains controllable after external issues have been set to one side.
The organisation’s analysts have said that focussing on what remains within their remit to affect will give retail businesses the best chance of surviving any fallout from Brexit and what could be another difficult year.
“2019 is forecast to be a turbulent year for retailers in the UK,” said Mr Martin from KPMG.
“Certain developments and events will sit beyond their control. But it is controlling the controllable, acknowledging the challenges and addressing these whilst proactively embracing the opportunity, which can deliver success.”