Retailers Paint a Bleak Picture of Christmas Trading and 2011 Prospects

By Cybertill, PRNE
Thursday, December 9, 2010

KNOWSEY, England, December 10, 2010 - UK Retailers are feeling pessimistic in the traditionally peak
pre-Christmas trading period, with only 15% of retailers anticipating that
they will have a better Christmas in 2010 compared to 2009, according to
research by Cybertill, a supplier of cloud-based retail software to
independent and high street retailers.

Cybertill polled its 600 retail customers in a variety of sectors
including fashion, bicycles, sports, discount, footwear, department stores,
charity, off licences and more, and 41% said they expect sales to be down
this Christmas, while 37% expected roughly the same levels of trading.

When asked about their outlook for 2011, only one in four was confident.
Reasons for this lack of confidence included government spending cuts, and
poor consumer confidence following recent economic troubles in the Eurozone
countries. The retailers that did feel confident cited a number of reasons
for their positive outlook. Although a resonating theme was the emphasis on
service, as Kevin Grant of independent bike retailer Escape Route, based in
Pitlochry, commented, "We are trying to look at ways to retain and develop
our customer base. One of our strengths is our face-to-face customer service,
offering sound and impartial advice to customers, this is critical in
retaining customers."

Another reason for optimism appears to be social media, as high-end home
interiors retailer, Graham and Green, believes social media commerce will
help them grow in 2011. Darek Szuminski, IT manager at Graham and Green,
comments, "We are planning to increase our presence in social media, as we
see this as a major opportunity for driving growth in 2011."

VAT gets even more taxing

Regarding the 2011 VAT rise (of 2.5% from 17.5% to 20%) retailers are
split, with 50% of retailers planning to pass the VAT rise onto customers.
37% said that they will absorb the cost, while 13% remain undecided.

First cut is the deepest

25% of retailers surveyed also stated that the Government announcement
regards the austerity cuts had affected their business and of those affected
33% had seen a reduction of 10% or more in takings. However, 58% of retailers
surveyed said that they have not yet been affected by the impending cuts.

Ian Tomlinson, Executive Chairman of Cybertill, said, "The high street is
facing testing times at the moment, due to the uncertain economic climate, as
this research demonstrates. But, there are also positives; some businesses
are growing in spite of the economy. They are doing this in a number of ways
but central to growth is excellent customer service. It may sound obvious,
but too often service levels in store are not seen as a priority, and in
these tougher times it is excellent service that can convert 'passing trade'
into loyal custom. Moreover, retailers of all sizes that have the right
infrastructure and software systems in place can reduce their costs and
overheads, by streamlining their operations, such as carrying the right stock
levels at the right times, and in turn gaining a competitive advantage over
their competition."

    Press Enquiries to:
    Fieldworks Marketing
    Zara Camble

Press Enquiries to: Fieldworks Marketing, Zara Camble, zara at, +44(0)1435-873080

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