How Was it for you ,Your Maj ?

Twenty years ago, I was a Royalist. Twenty years of discussions with Julia, I ceased to be a Royalist . However, I have a lot of respect for the Queen. Not the Institution (Monarchy) but the person.

I don’t believe any of us are subjects of anyone else

I don’t believe anyone should curtsey, kneel or bow to anyone (Unless they are Japanese, or our Dog Ari who I have to kneel to give him a cuddle)

I don’t believe anyone has the right to rule over anyone, no matter how lightly, by dint of birth

So that’s my much vaunted Knighthood gone the drain, for all those years of supplying loads of party items to many parties that had something to do with Royalty.

None of which is the point of this post. The question here is how strong is the effect of a Jubilee and other similar pageants or events .

What will the Jubilee weekend mean for the economy?

The claim of £1 billion being spent could also refer to the amount the public is predicted to spend directly over the period, rather than how much the celebrations will cost the taxpayer.Estimates we’ve seen for this vary wildly. For example, the Mirror quoted a retail analyst who estimated the Jubilee could mean a sales boost of between £1 billion and £2 billion at pubs, shops and other venues on food and beverages, depending on the weather. Meanwhile the Centre for Retail Research has estimated that new retail spending relating to the Jubilee will amount to around £408m between April and June (www.fullfact.org)

The satirical magazine Private Eye , has a section called Desperate Marketing, where it gives examples of Product/ service Suppliers making extremely tenuous links with various events. The following three images were taken from the Times Newspaper over the Jubilee Weekend.

One of this company’s Product USP’s is that you don’t need a fridge as you can store them in your Pantry !
Wild Alaskan Salmon, canned for over 70 Years !
All Italian Recipes !

But what are the realistic pluses and minuses of such an event .

Moneysupermarket.Com estimated that everyone spent £83 per person on the Jubilee. I don’t doubt it . Or rather, I do question where that number came from. Understanding that it is hardly scientific , I, personally, know very few people that actually spent anything. That said me being a miserable git, it may come as no surprise. But where do these numbers come from . If someone bought a couple of bottles of wine on the jubilee weekend , is that included, no matter what the reason for the purchase.

Cynicism aside, there will, of course have been an uptick in retail sales on drink, food , and party decs, and probably hospitality but much of that would be confined to London (hospitality that is) but beyond that my limited imagination does not stretch. I expect many restaurants over the weekend were quieter than usual. Julia and I happened to be in two town centres and one major shopping centre during the four days and they were eerily quiet. This week I was in Glasgow and to my surprise they were saying that the Jubilee had been very good for them (retailers selling party ware).

There is that unquantifiable feel good factor , that sometimes comes into play , but considering the industrial outlook (railways et al) and energy costs I can’t see that lasting long.

Then there is the other questionable statistic ,the loss to the economy of an extra Public Holiday .

In 2012, a study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) think tank estimated that each bank holiday costs the British economy £2.3bn through lost productivity.

The number of people visiting shops in the Jubilee week increased over 17% on the average for May. The BRC reported that for the rest of May, there was evidence of rising inflation deterring the public from spending. Footfall for the Bank Holiday Thursday (2 June) was 45.5% higher than the May 2022 average.

Helen Dickinson, BRC’s chief executive, commented: “It was great to see so many people out celebrating and shopping at their favourite local destinations – a welcome boost for retail businesses reliant on store performance, particularly on the high street.-partyworldwide.net

I really struggle with this. Again, Julia and I were in a local independent women’s fashion retailer on that Saturday . He is always busy on a normal Saturday , but he said ‘Today there is nobody about’. There will have been many out and about but I really don’t see that many of them were shopping.

As unscientific as they maybe, you must have conclusions ……..

The Party Market

Great and much deserved fillip after the previous tough years . After the Diamond Jubilee, I suspect few expected there to be a Platinum one.

The UK Economy as a whole

Questionable but perhaps marginal uptick .

Morale

Short Upturn .

Her Maj

I believe from the genuine smiles on her face (especially as she was able to avoid the more tedious events, and the worst extremities of her family) She enjoyed it .

BBC

So When are We going to get our Gear…..? Or We need stock !

When we thought it was all over, it starts up again. For two years all market places had experienced major supply issues due to huge disruption within the supply chain. Some of us were starting to think that maybe the end was in sight.

project44 2021
Resilinc 2022
Raconteur 1/05/2022

But no….

Any one of these factors could prove sufficient to blow even the best-planned
supply chain off course. As China, the world’s factory, struggles with pandemic enforced port closures, supply chains that were already under stress are reaching breaking point. The world is redrawing its
economic activity to cut out Russia after its invasion of Ukraine – an action that is affecting supplies of grain and cooking oil, as well as the oil we use to power our factories and vehicles. Catastrophe is being piled on top of catastrophe.
“The expanded global nature and contracting diversity of supply chains have
together exacerbated this effect,” notes
Tim Morley, regional director at Information Services Group, a global research
and advisor
.

In response to the War in the Ukraine …..

“Supply chains have not had time to recover, and we now face a critical tipping point that could have both supply and cost ramifications rippling through industrial and consumer markets for years to come.” (Kate Tamblin is chief product officer at risk management specialist Achilles and author of the company’s supply chain resilience index).

And more ….

“We’ll continue to see disruptions unless countries and businesses get serious about
building resilience by holding more inventory and excess capacity as well as
restoring industrial capabilities that have been offshored,” Professor Johnson, Head of Operations management, Warwick Business School.

So many quotes and so little comment .There a number of factors not included; pent up demand, falling demand, changing demand and labour shortages. Reflecting the complexity of the issues we are all facing I struggle to add what has already been said by much better commentators than some geezer who waffles on about party products. But struggle I have and there is stuff I have to say.

But before that , here is another graphic ( I hesitate in using the word interesting ,as it is much overused but seldom relevant when it comes to Graphics) , which , to me, is quite illustrative (its a graphic, it should be ).

Quite simply that it suggests that despite that massive use of IT and data the biggest influence on decision making process is People.

McKinsey 2021

People are complex. Nothing new there. Yet, that complexity has been muddled or at very least changed by Covid . This impact is yet undefined and consequently unknown. But there has been a significant psychological change in us all . As in us all ordinary folk. Impacting both consumer and all those within the supply chain. Decisions will and are being made differently. There within in industry there is much uncertainty over everything from supply to demand that the decision making process becomes more hazardous because there is little historical data to work from.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but now, I often question a decision purely on the basis that I am very uncertain of the outcome. Where in the past I could have quantified the outcome because of previous similar decisions and their outcomes. Within industry many decisions are having to be made without really knowing the consequences outside their own market place, despite the fact that a bucket load of stuff is happening outside their market place which is affecting them in turn. I suspect product sourcing is undergoing its biggest change in the last fifty years.

Decision making has changed, we all know sort of why but few if any know ‘What To’. It still does not alter the fact that getting your Gear is not going to get any easier for some time to come. If you are UK based you can look forward to a possible National Rail strike this summer, which will throw another spanner in the works. Is there a connection with everything else ? Probably, for a couple of reasons….

  1. High inflation created by the Ukraine War, post covid disruption and energy issues, leading to pressure on wages .
  2. High Employment and shortage of labour
  3. All of the above puts the Unions in quite a strong bargaining position.

So nothing is going to change for some time. Or rather loads of things are going to change but we are not sure what. However, we can be pretty certain that the supply side is going to be very bumpy for sometime to come.

Finally, for those who are, oddly, not aware of any supply issues , just go into any major supermarket chain and take a peak at the empty spots on the shelves. And if any one chain has filled them then look at what they have filled them with (eg doubling up on product that usually would not warrant that space ).

And a bit more finally, if you are not experiencing stock issues, and are not expecting any, Well Done ! What’s your secret ?

My Scary Trip through the Amazon….

Alone, deep in the jungle, so small and insignificant, pitted against nature, still I sensed someone was watching me. Or watching over me. Someone could see me, someone was providing for me”

― Yossi Ghinsberg, Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival

Teetering at the entrance, I cannot deny I was apprehensive, perhaps a little frightened, yet nonetheless very excited . All my anxiety dissipated on my meeting my guide, who explained everything to me in a very calm and professional manner. As with many things in life the first few steps were tentative.

And I was in. There was no going back . Well there was, but not the way I came in . I would have to complete the entire trip.

I had entered my first Amazon Fresh Store.

Amazon Fresh, Chingford, North East London

Somehow, it was not what I had anticipated. Although I am not sure what I was expecting . A Convenience store is a Convenience Store, no matter how you dress it up. However, it is a smart (both technologically and appearance) looking store. There is a clean and fresh feel about it and I found the ranging particularly interesting. I think I expected very basic in terms of product but that was not the case. Yes it did have the basics but it also those little extras that make, well I think so, reason to go in more frequently . The bakery section had good looking product plus those slightly different offerings such as Pastel De Nata (yep, egg custards) . Prices looked probably better than most convenience stores.

I spent just over five minutes looking around. How did I know that ? It will be diagrammatically shown later. Bought some odds and ends , that I did not need, but wanted to see how it worked and then just left . So I will explain in a touch more detail. I picked up some items put them into a supplied paper bag and walked out . It was truly seamless and very simple and convenient.

What was a little surprising is the demographic of those other consumers who were in store at the same time as me. I can only measure approximate age group and they were all 50+. It was a good quick shop experience. No queuing, no trying to find non existent bar codes at self checkouts and I suspect from the retailers point of view much reduced stock shrinkage from shop lifting. How so ? You may ask. The theory is when you pick something up and put it on your personal being, Amazon knows . It’s the eye in the sky, or rather cameras absolutely everywhere. So the moment you walk out with something no matter how well you think you may have hidden it , you will get charged for it.

The one thing I did not try was to buy alcohol (which they sold) , there must be some personal interaction, probably from the excellent Amazon Guide, from a legal age perspective.

Later that day my receipt (below ) came through. Note it shows how long I was in store .

So is it the future of Retail ? Yes, in part ,it is. It does not answer all the future problems of retail nor does it suit many product sectors ( and I am pretty sure it is flipping expensive to install and operate) but it is most certainly going to be part of the mix.

Yossi Ghinsberg is an Israeli adventure who got himself lost in the Bolivian Rain Forest . Repeating part of his quote from above I think is a very apt way to illustrate that the there is a very close relationship between the Amazon Rain Forest and the Amazon Fresh Store. So for those of us who are not fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit the Amazon Jungle can get a flavour of it by going into an Amazon Store….

……..still I sensed someone was watching me. Or watching over me. Someone could see me, someone was providing for me”

Whose the Party Pooper…?

Reader Warning !

For those who may be offended by the intrigues, complexities, dark arts, hidden secrets, and just sheer audacity that go to the extremities of the Party market , should , perhaps look away. Read no further . Hide behind the latest Stephen King, some Shakespeare or maybe Jean Paul Sartre. This may not be for you .

And for those whose first language is not English …Party Pooper is someone who ruins a happy occasion .

This is a return to the roots of the Blog Title thepartyblog.org .

The party market has always been dynamic. Or rather in the last 10-15 years it has. Prior to that it would be difficult to argue . Much has happened during the pandemic ,some of which was happening already but was rapidly accelerated by the events of the last two years.

To avoid confusing myself ,I shall divide the market into 2. Decoration, including Balloons and Dress Up.

Decoration

It might seem to be stating the blindingly obvious, but Covid was a game changer. Yes, of course it was , but not ,perhaps, in the way that most think. There were changes afoot in the way the UK consumer approached decorating for parties for a number of years but after the first few raw weeks of lock down in April 2020 ,this went into overdrive. Well summarised by an Observer(UK Sunday Newspaper) Journalist …

You might think Covid – no parties (except in Downing Street), no proms, no fun at all – would have popped the balloon bubble. Quite the contrary. As Kasiri says: “People were still pregnant, they were still having birthdays, baby showers… although they didn’t invite guests, they still wanted a backdrop so people could attend on Zoom or pop into the garden.” Elari pivoted to contactless deliveries of bike-sized backdrops, as a balloon arrangement became the consolation prize; a cheer-up for a cancelled celebration rather than the inflatable icing on the cake.

Emma Beddington -Observer 10th April 2022

I believe that, initially, this was very much a UK trend. It was not confined to Balloons as the consumer decided that if they could not go out for their celebration they would make very best of it at home and as it was very adult centric , the results were often quite stunning . Emma Beddington puts it quite succinctly….

Animal sculptures are Old Balloon, along with the traditional packet of primary-coloured ovals, effortfully inflated and tied by apprehensive parents, pre-party, and just sort of tossed on the floor, perhaps rubbing one against a jumper to perform the never-not-funny static hair trick on a nearby child or tying a couple to the door knocker with string. Also Old Balloon: a single, or small bunch of foil “birthday girl”, “18 today” or L-plate helium-filled ones, dragged round streets and into bars, bobbing chaotically in the wake of a group of lairy revellers, eventually abandoned in a club queue, floating up, up and away.

Today it is more about design , creativity and impact.

Now Party Decoration , at home or somewhere outside the home, has taken on a different meaning. This provides a challenge for Retailers, whether online or on Street. It is essential to keep a very close eye on trends . It is no longer enough to rely on your suppliers to tell what are their top best selling items as today’s best sellers are very unlikely to be tomorrow’s . Although it pains me to say this, but what the Kardashians do today , millions try tomorrow.

This has created an retail environment of opportunity. Not to say there will not be challenges . However, the days of filling your store with product, open the doors and let the punters pore in are over. Though in reality, it was never quite like that anyway but the consumer will expect more in terms of the retail experience. They will want to see new innovations , ideas, product and retail colleagues who can help them achieve the party atmosphere they want to create . It will no longer be sufficient to refresh your product ranges once a year (some retailers don’t even do that ) . Speak with your suppliers, talk with your customers, look at social media These are opportunities that the supermarket or discount chains cannot access and are very difficult for websites of any format difficult to gain any traction.

As a footnote , here is a fairly eyepopping figure from the Observer, although a source is not declared. Nevertheless it is fairly impressive…..

the global balloon market is big business: it was valued at $647.3m in 2020 and is predicted to grow at an average of 4.2% until 2026.

Dress Up

The costume and dress up market has been undergoing change for, probably, the last five or six years. It is widely considered that the market (throughout most of Europe ) in costumes has plateaued and possibly is in a slight decline. Throughout the pandemic it was virtually none existent . The opportunity to wear fancy dress simply did not exist . No hospitality, no parties, no travel, no sporting events, no festivals. All, of which are major dress up opportunities. But, Covid aside, there was a move away from buying what is basically an one off purchase . That is to say if you buy a Roman Gladiator costume, you only really wear it, if you are going to be a Roman Gladiator.

Jumpy People or Kangaroos? Any other ideas -Boland Kangaroo Onesies

During the pandemic there was a uptick in accessorization ie the use of wigs, beards, glasses, anything to enhance the atmosphere with the temporary trend of Zoom Parties. But again it just nudged on an existing trend whereby using accessories , the consumer found the ability to adapt product they bought for one occasion they could use for another . Moreover, it once again it encouraged creativity as a daft hat or wig could be used with your every day clothes or other items. Pre-Covid this was a trend very evident in recent Halloween themes. Wear a Pirates hat and beard at same time as wearing Devils Wings and fake blood . This will continue and develop. Initially online and High Street Party retailers did not like this as they were losing a single sale of £30-£40 plus and have to make several sales in accessories to make up the lost revenue. Then they started to realise, although more work was involved the margins were much better and there was less competition from the Supermarkets, and discounters as they are unable to offer the extensive accessory ranges you need to make this work.

So who are the Party Poopers? No, not the party loving UK Prime Minister. Covid, disrupted supply chains , Russian Invaders, fuel costs and inflation. Each and everyone is interlinked in some way or another. Covid is continuing as a major problem primarily due to the way the Chinese Government is handling the problem in China. The locking down of major conurbations fundamentally mean that many factories of all shapes and sizes and not operating. Compounded by the Chinese Government limiting energy supplies to certain manufacturing areas. Rampant world wide inflation will put a damper on consumer spending. So it is not a good look and these disruptions are here for some time . However, I am reasonably optimistic. The Party market often does well when there are major economic pressures. The Retail price points are such that whilst the consumer may think twice about having a lavish celebration in a third party environment they will spend on ensuring that celebration at home is made all that bit more special . Lockdowns highlighted this pattern and I believe it has created an awareness with the consumer that will persist and grow. But the retailers, of all types ( and suppliers) will have to work for it.

To conclude with a riposte to all Party Poopers …..

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.”

A.A Milne -Winnie The Pooh

Sex Toys……The Next Product coming to a Supermarket near you ?

Yes.

Well according to that august title Retail Gazette, there are a number of product categories that the High Street Majors are considering. Sex Toys, Vaping and Plant Based products are three of them . Covid tests, meal kits and Pick and Mix are the others.

As far as Sex Toys are concerned it has already happened as Tesco is rolling out a range in 250 stores.

Vaping, I would have thought they were a bit behind the eight ball on this one. Yes, the market is still growing . Currently in the U.K. the market is estimated at about £3 billion. However, according to some retailers I have spoken with, the consumer tends to shop seeking advice. Perhaps trying different flavours it doesn’t appear to be natural for supermarkets where they would not get the service levels that provide optimum experience.

Plant Based products is the grouping that is a tad amusing. A massive part of what they sell already are plant based. Like what are bananas, potatoes, cabbages, sprouts, and the entire fruit and veg sections if they are not plant based . Sure, I know that there are plant based burgers , ice cream, cakes, and whole gamut of imitation type products. But the reality is that chunks of standard Supermarket offerings are Plant based. It is a marketing hype and I am not convinced it is terribly helpful especially to those who are very wary of what they would describe as fads without realising they are probably eating a load of plants already. There is also a large junk of the population who would see the Category Plant Based and put two and two together ( making it five during the current inflationary cycle looks a bit conservative) and assume that it would be too expensive . That said, the cynic on my shoulder would point that this category would be more expensive and more profitable.

Supermarkets are notoriously slow in their buying decisions, waiting for range reviews before even considering new products. I would have thought the search of new products should come first and then decide when to have range review. Buying Departments within the multiples should be renamed Sourcing . Actually one has started to use that Description. When it comes to a Multiple looking at products that are outside of their core range they tend to take the line of least resistance. I could not count the number of times, when approached or having approached a Multiple retailer their first test is to match your prices against their incumbent supplier. If you don’t match they wont look. Or rather the reality is that if you are not lower they wont look. Not sure this is the most efficient way of keeping pace with the market. But not likely to see much change anytime soon. ! It is just very frustrating.

Covid testing is a difficult one. One half of me says they are just jumping on a band wagon, the other half says if you need a test quickly and are unsure how to get one but know that Tesco ( or any supermarket) do them , it would make that process a lot easier and probably quicker. At least they would have some credibility as opposed to some strange and distant Medical Company that you know nothing about , or worse still the Government . Great situation that, Who do we trust most ? The Government or a Supermarket ? Answers on a postcard.

Strangely, none of these items appear in Shopify’s product trending list for 2022. What is even stranger is that items appear in the Shopify list that are products the Supermarkets are kicking out, Books and CDs.

Extract from Shopify 2022 Product Trends

What was No 1 ? Books and E-Books. Now Shopify was highlighting trends based on Online selling (hence E Books). However , nowhere in their top 21 did any of the Product areas as detailed at the beginning of this post, appear . I am not suggesting that Multiples should be looking at LP’s but when you look at the numbers especially for CD’s (albeit from a very low level ) that there must be more interesting and healthier options than Vaping.

For the Good Independent Retailer out there , I think this is good news. But you have to be good. For so many years (within the Party sector) I have walked into Party Retailers and they have said oh, I can’t sell that sort of product as the supermarkets have killed it. I just can’t compete. They could and can. Most of them have gone now . I suggest that many had not actually looked in their local supermarket as they were usually poorly ranged and certainly offered no level of service .

So for those looking at a range of sex toys -go for it. If Tesco are giving it a level of respectability and no level of service, you are onto a winner .

Who Needs the Big Brands ?

So….I think there are 2 types of ‘Mega’ Brands.

Rock Hard (Hard Rock looks better but makes no sense ) and Soft Rock (looks better and sounds OK).

Rock Hard

Equates to the likes of Apple . When a consumer goes online, or goes in store, and searches (asks) for Apple, that is invariably what they are are looking for. An Apple Product and not something that is a bit like an Apple product. I think there are few that fall into this category . Coca-Cola maybe be another. I, for one, when asking for a Coke (rather unfortunate additional connotations here) I am asking for Coca-Cola and not Pepsi nor any other Cola. I think this may fall into a bit more of a sub category HardSoft .

Microsoft, perhaps McDonalds, certain upmarket Car Brands, and in a very peculiar inverse sort of way Google. By that, I mean, many will use other search engines but will inevitably say they have Googled something. When did you ever here some one say …

I Binged (edged, chromed, safaried…..) such and such.….

Like it or not Amazon cannot be excluded from this Grouping as they most certainly do not fall into the category below as nobody benefits from the Amazon brand apart from Amazon.

Soft Rock

There’s loads of these. Big Brands which have positive impacts on generic smaller brands.

Levi’s, who hasn’t gone into a store looking for Levis when what you are, actually, doing is looking for a pair of Jeans. Hoover became the generic term for Vacuum Cleaners. Even Dyson is often used to describe bag less or cordless upstarts.

This category is littered with huge world wide brands but in most cases other smaller players benefit to a degree from the consumers awareness in the product because of the Big Brands own activities.

All these Super Brands spend hundreds of millions each year promoting their products in order to remain Super Brands. Yet some fascinating research has just been published.

http://www.inriver.com Feb 2022 via Retail Gazette

We commissioned OnePoll to
conduct an independent survey
of 6,000 online shoppers from
across the US, UK, and Germany
to share what they think about
poor product information,
availability, and findability.

As Above

There are a whole bunch of reasons why these surveys have come up with these sort of results. One, which is certainly relevant for me, is often whatever I am searching for , I don’t know of any
significant brands. I want to see whatever brands are available or more simply I have not the slightest idea of what I am looking for. At this very moment I have no doubt there will be a whole raft of consumers out there looking for Wifi Connected Swim suits so they can remain
connected whilst sunning themselves in the Mediterranean Sea and are not separated from the internet . They wont know who makes them and certainly not the brands. No, they don’t exist (-yet and yes I have checked ) but I think it works as an illustration.

Within our own industry (ie Party) a major latex balloon manufacturer’s brand has dominated the market for many years. And for good reason. They produce an excellent product and they invested heavily in marketing. However, a change happened during Covid (yes its that word again) . Supply disruption occurred. The market needed product , as there was huge demand and they found alternatives . The alternatives were found to be more than acceptable replacements . The consequence was a major distillation of the brand and a huge increase in product choice.

This effect migrated into other party products. Retailers reliant upon major brands could not get the stock they wanted started to look at other Brands who had stock. Hey Presto ! They suddenly discovered that there were other good brands out there and the product was just as good and sold as well if not better.

As above

I am not knocking good brands. I have spent most of my working life trying promote brands in various market places . My point is that I think ‘professional’ consumers i.e. `buyers should re-evaluate the brands they rely on and ask themselves are they really getting value for money . The amateur buyer i.e. the end consumer , according to the research seems to know better ……

Have you heard ?…Retail Stores are the thing of the future …….

Shops on the High Street ….you wont see one by Spring 2023

Old Saxon Retail Times

There wont be a single bricks and mortar shop left in the UK in 12 months

George Porkpie

I ain’t got that intanet thing.. ‘ow am I going to buy me stuf..

Ivy Asbeen

A great deal has been has been reported about the rapid demise of the Hight Street Store, never more so than in the last two years , so the following may come as a bit of a surprise.

In the past 18 months, retail has gone through one of the fastest and most demanding transformations in the past decade. As a result, the role of the physical store has and is changing profoundly. For example, retailers are embracing new functions that are key to define the quality of the shopping experience delivered to customers.

Despite the “online-shift” assumption, the physical store is actually gaining centrality in retail’s operations. 76% of retailers agree that, following the pandemic, the store is becoming a more important asset in the customer shopping journey, expanding its role as experiential and fulfilment hub.

Retail Gazette/IDC January 2022

The fundamental role and purpose of retail stores are changing. Digital transformation forced brick-and-mortar outlets to evolve as more of the path to purchase shifted online. Now, as e-commerce expands, retailers are reimagining the functionality of stores and tapping into digital tools to keep those stores relevant.

Physical retail will remain the largest and most important channel for the foreseeable future, but how space is leveraged will transform. In Euromonitor’s recent Commerce 2040 virtual event, Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer at Publicis, noted that stores are no longer a singular touchpoint in the shopping journey; now, stores play several roles, becoming platforms that serve multiple missions and stakeholders. Michelle Evans -Forbes December 2021

Whilst this a welcome step, it is important to consider two words in the IDC report.

Experiential

Fulfilment

What this implies is an environment where you can undergo the experience of the product or service . Plus the store will be a smaller fulfilment hub .

Not that there is anything wrong in either concept as the key factor will be bringing the consumer back onto High Streets or other retail environments.

An example of an Experiential store is…….yet here is another ‘flippingeck moment ….Netflix

Netflix is expanding its retail operations further as it announces plans to open its first ever permanent physical store next year.

The streaming giant, which opened its debut online store last month, plans to open a high-tech physical store in Tokyo, Japan, in 2022 aiming to “merge the virtual world of the internet with the real world”.

Netflix is understood to be introducing a host of experiential features to its new store, while selling a range of merchandise from its most popular shows in line with its online offering, according to The Japan Times.

In other words Disney store with attitude.

Here’s another Experiential Store, which offers a truly strange but very interesting possibilities

London’s Westfield shopping centre partnered with teams at TikTok to create the concept. The pop-up has an area of about 370 square metres and will be open until 8 August (2021)

For shopping centres, it can be a tool to attract more visitors again, after the decline caused by corona. ” TikTok has become a cultural phenomenon. It’s where many of our visitors are getting their inspiration from, whether that’s fashion trends, the newest home styling influencer or foodie fads”, says Harita Shah of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

Retaildetail.eu

Who would have thought five years ago that there would one let alone two types of Amazon physical stores?

-Amazon Fresh Stores -checkout free grocery convenience stores (currently 15 in the UK)

-Amazon 4 star stores- Range of 4 star plus reviewed products from the Amazon web site (currently 2 in the UK

Amazon Fresh -Wembley UK

Who would have thought five years that IKEA would open Town Centre ‘Convenience style’ (my words) stores ? It is not actually that small at 4,800 square Metres but it is on the High Street-and is small in comparison to their regular stores.

Who would have thought that any of this was good news ?

I do .

Well at least in part.

What is the one common feature of any type of retail ?

They all need to have Customers.

What is the one common impact of all these developments?

They, all , for many different reasons, will attract loads of potential customers. Whether it High Streets, Town Centres or Shopping Centres, it will bring old and new consumers back in numbers

Over the as last fifty years, town’s main shopping areas have had a corner stone or key store attraction. These were often Department Stores, most of which have gone. Even the ones that are left have reduced their exposure (eg John Lewis ).

Whilst many of these Brands maybe considered anathemas to many , there is no doubt they are crowd pullers. What these Brands understand and are very good at, is Branding . Part of that branding is the permanent reinforcement of being on a High Street. They also see the value of physical locations within centres of population as the retail environment continues to develop.

And whilst many retailers may not see this as welcome news, they should maybe re-evaluate they way they operate and take advantage and welcome these potentially dynamic changes. Flipping’ eck it is, I think a very positive step in bringing people back on the High Street in numbers.

Moreover, whatever we think of any of these brands and where they pay their tax they still employ in big numbers and they attract spending in big numbers. The independents out there, and maybe next door to them, just need to make sure that some of that spending goes into their tills.

The Power of Colours….Or is Beige really that Exciting ?

Julia is an Artist. I have spent the major part of my working life in the Party Industry. Anybody who may know me would not say I was someone really into Colour. Anybody who knows me well, would same exactly the same .

Yet…..On so many levels , I am mesmerised by colour. It plays such a monumental part in all our lives , eating, dressing, transport, health through fitness, travel, education to politics, science and religion. Colours are a predominate factor in all our lives, for good or bad .

It dresses you, envelopes you, invites you, beguiles, encourages, politicises, hurts, invigorates, creates, good or evil, you cannot avoid it.

Since I started posting I have assiduously avoided making any sales pitches. This once, I make no apology for a little pitch. Latex Occidental ( A Mexican Latex Balloon manufacturer – the largest in the World -Brand Globos Payaso) is kicking off 2022 with a programme called the The Power of Colours.

Initially, I thought Nice idea ….The more I thought about it , the stronger the phrase became until I thought that’s a great idea . I suspect we are all guilty for taking colours for granted . The concept is so much part of our daily lives that we rarely think about it in its entirety .

Courtesy GRAF1X.com

Party Product is all about Colour. It may seem strange but there was a time when most disposable tableware was white and white only . Latex balloon manufacturers may have made maybe ten, tops twelve colours. Foil balloon makers started with silver only (came from the base colour of Mylar- I think). Drinking straws where white . Now, Colour is (obviously to some) party paramount. There are loads of influences, the fashion industry, home decor but much of what happens today , within our market comes from Social Media. This has a huge impact especially within areas such as party decor and balloon decoration. During the last two years, colours that have often lay dormant within suppliers warehouses suddenly burst into favour. When asked what was trending in their area, one of my very knowledgeable clients responded succinctly ….

Various shades of poo !

As a consequence……

Beige came of Age !

Me 😁 January 2022

Everything that you can see in the world around you presents itself to your eyes only as an an arrangement of different colours

John Ruskin

Colours express the main psychic functions of man

Carl Jung

The Pantone Institute, the ‘go to’ organisation for world wide colour specifications since the early 1960’s , forecast the ‘colour of the year’ . This process is carried out by bringing together colour specialists from throughout the world as to what they think will be the trend for the coming year . 2022 it is Very Peri. A colour specifically invented and inspired from A Happy Periwinkle. Or in a more simplistic manner,is a new shade of Blue.

Within the Party Market, we are very fortunate in being immersed in the world of colour. It has spawned a wealth of creativity, especially within the world of Balloon Decorating. At the very same time, more especially over the last 2 years, there is much heightened consumer awareness of the vast number of colour combinations available. It is generally accepted that there are about 10 million colours that the human eye can detect . That’s a heck of a lot (in this case heck is a lot bigger than vast) of possible combinations.

Courtesy of Latex Occidental (Globos Payaso) -Susana Guerrero

Despite the all pervasiveness of colour there has been little scientific research into its impacts. Or rather there has been quite a bit but little agreement. Aristotle (not our dog in this instance) made the first acknowledgment of colour , however his conclusion was that colour derived from God. White being good and black evil. I think whatever your belief you would comfortably find the problem with that thesis .

Sir Isaac Newton, by analysing sunlight through prisms isolated the colours of the rainbow. Which is a bit handy as the following possibility, would made the world a very different place ..

…if the Sun’s Light consisted of but one sort of Rays, there would be but one Colour in the whole World…

Sir Isaac Newton -Optics

Which conclusively illustrates that Beige is incredibly exciting …..

For those of us, albeit in a very small way, who have the opportunity to influence the use of colour in their working practices, should think about phrase of the power of colours, as apposed to the use of colours. Many probably do it anyway without actually saying it. Like many things saying it out aloud often gives it a stronger impact . But I still be wary about shouting out that beige is exciting ….

Why do We Swallow all this Guff ?…and if it’s not all Guff, it’s bloody expensive ….

What does ‘Guff’ mean…..

Cambridge Dictionary

Second question …From whence does all the flow ? First two frames of the first image. Now before you scream and shout ….

If you add the first image with the second , it may give a clue.

You simply cannot generalise . Management consultants would not be so successful if they’re weren’t successful !

And this quite right , I should not generalise. It is without doubt they perform many a useful task in many sectors. They invest large amounts of money hoovering up the world’s greatest potential talent and training them to be good at what they do .

This is a list of the U.K.’s leading consultants…..

And this is how they earn some of their keep …

The value of contracts awarded by the government and public bodies to consultants rose from £1.2bn in 2019-20 to £2.5bn in 2020-21, according to Tussell’s analysis. The figures include work for central government and arm’s length public bodies, but exclude local authorities. Payments under many contracts may be lower than their published value — and in some cases consultants pass on work and fees to subcontractors. Financial Times October 2021

Actual spending on consultants by central government and arm’s length bodies was about £1.5bn in 2020-21, said a person briefed on the government’s figures. That was about double the total of “more than £700m” the government has said it spent on consultants the previous year. Financial Times October 2021

So was it all worth it ? That is not for me to judge but there are reasons to be cautious .Again taken from the Financial Times. The paragraph below that refers to a threat that the U.K. Government is considering not allowing KPMG to bid for contracts.

PwC’s German headquarters in Frankfurt and its offices in four other cities in the country were searched on Tuesday in a far-reaching investigation of suspected aggravated tax fraud by current and former partners. The raids, which also included the private homes of eight individuals, were disclosed in a press release from the Frankfurt General Prosecution office. Some 250 law enforcement officers across Germany took part in the action.

KPMG’s reputation has suffered in recent years after a series of fines for misconduct. It is also under investigation over other allegations of malpractice.

It is very easy to find faults in any large organisation employing thousands but when these organisations are involved with central governments, throughout the world, spending public money, there, at times, seems to a huge lack of scrutiny . Of course during the pandemic, UKGOV needed expertise not to hand within the civil service. However there are so many examples of vast amounts of dosh slipping through public finance hands into Consultants pockets without any fruitful outcomes . That said there are times , particularly during the pandemic (ppe) when seeking expert advice would have been more effective than ringing your mates.

I suspect one of the problems with major projects such as the various attempts to digitise the NHS is the lack of specific knowledge to be able draw up comprehensive briefs for consultants to work to. But just as likely is for the Civil Service and politicians inability to fully comprehend the plans and advice presented by advising organisations.

32 billion items of ppe…..ordered at a cost of £12.5 billion in five months (This turned out to be drastic over order, based on ‘modelling‘ from Mckinseys, one of the many consultancy firms to be quids in from Covid).

Private Eye 1560 Nov 2021

Deloitte’s partner in test and trace was Serco. ……….But then Serco was no stranger to public service foul ups , including with Deloitte it’s auditor as a partner in crime. The latter being fined £4 million for not spotting Serco had cheated on tagging contracts a few years before with tagging contracts.

Private Eye 1560 Nov 2021

£665 million Cost to tax payer of services from Deloitte 202/21 (not all Covid)

Private Eye 1560 Nov 2021

It would very easy to be flippant (or flipping easy ) to just say that Management Consultants are just organisations designed to suck up vast amounts of dosh . ‘Cos they do. If one considers the figures below they amount to a figure that is approximately 30% bigger than the entire U.K. defence budget. But ( and I’m struggling a bit) they perform a function. They must do if the good people of the UK spend £63 billion with them. They have huge resources of expertise that would not be commercially viable for any single organisation to have sitting still in a room until they are needed.

Total Size of the UK Market

  • UK Management consultancy  Market Size: £63bn
  • business Number of Businesses: 172,912
  • employs 419,850 IBISWorld(reseeacrh organisation established 1971)

These numbers are on the top end of estimates, but it sort of suits me. They, only, reinforce the argument you can find any number that suits your own theories, which I suspect is an argument much used by The Consultancies selling their wares.

When the numbers are this big it is easy to make cheap shots as there are bound to be screw ups, and the odd over charge (Deloitte’s average staff pay inc pension and NI is £77,000-£27,900 average for NHS worker ) in their vast spread of work but at the same time the icing on the cake is going to be pretty thick.

Some ‘Guffy’ examples…

  1. “What’s the so-what?” Translation: How is this analysis useful? Real meaning: You’re one up on me because you’ve done…
  2. “MECE” Translation: Mutually Exclusive and Completely Exhaustive. Real meaning: Tell me you haven’t missed something… Forbes

Whilst it is quite clearly not all guff, the bit that is will be bloody expensive.

Re-inventing the Wheel….Retailers do it all the time ……

An Original Wheel
An Original Retailer

I’ve got to say, whilst both concepts remain little changed in their function , the ancient retailer, in many ways, resembles the modern version much more than that of the original wheel.

Whilst aesthetics and the use of the wheel has undergone massive changes, basically the retailer does exactly the same as they would have 2000 years ago and more. They buy something and then sell it. Meanwhile, the wheel has undergone multiple transformations. It is no longer just about shifting stuff , it enhances power, tells the time (cogs), controls movements (steering wheels ,Ship’s wheel,) ,Chinese revolving wheel tables to name just a few. The Retailer still buys then sells.

But, of course , it is not quite that simple. Since the early 1900’s retail (especially within the U.K. & the USA ) began to change dramatically. In 1901 Michael Marks and Tom Spencer started to roll out their first joint venture under the Marks and Spencer banner and consequently the beginning of the ubiquitous British Chain store . Between 1931 and 1939 Jack Cohen expanded from 1 store to 100. In 1903 John Sainsbury opened his first grocery store (the very first general store was opened 1869) by 1928 there were 128.

In the 1950’s the concept of the Supermarket started to emerge, followed by Superstores, Discount operators , Convenience Stores , Mail order catalogues, even Boot Sales and eventually through to Online Retailers. All these were evolutions that would change retailing, and in the view of some eventually kill the High Street, independents and market traders. There is,of course, an element of truth in that view. But it is not the whole picture . By 2020 there were still over 300,000 retail outlets employing 2.9 million people.

So, What now ? Oh yes, we have Amazon Shops ! And what the f…!(…=acebook) we are now going to get Facebook shops.

Meta, the social media company formerly known as Facebook, has discussed opening retail stores that will eventually span the world, said people with knowledge of the project and company documents viewed by The New York Times. The stores would be used to introduce people to devices made by the company’s Reality Labs division, such as virtual reality headsets and, eventually, augmented reality glasses, they said.

The New York Times Nov 2021

But that is not about the changing wheel. What I have seen since the pandemic (and it is particularly during the pandemic I have seen this emerge) is a new type of independent Retailer that is dragging the High Street into the 21st Century .

During the late 1990’s, early 2000’s the major brewers started to dominate the Pub Scene. The inevitable consequence was a constant consolidation in the number of pubs and beers. So was that the end of the local hostelry ? Not so, there are now nearly 2000 Micro breweries in the UK ,many with their imbibing outlets.

The total number of (gin) distilleries registered in the UK in 2020 grew to over 560 (at least 563)*, up from over 440 (at least 441) in 2019.

WSTA

Street Food Stats: (Dunns Food & Drink Oct 2019

  • Over 6.6 MILLION posts on Instagram with the hashtag #STREETFOOD
  • Mexican is the 3rd most popular ethnic cuisine in the UK
  • Street Food is consumed by 2.5 BILLION worldwide each year
  • 71% of Generation Z like to try new dishes and flavours
  • The street food market is now worth an estimated £1.2 BILLION in the UK
  • 68% felt that street food introduced them to new flavours
  • £198 is spent on food and beverage by festival goers each year

Who would have believed this ten years ago……

There are now 14,727 physical shops in the UK which sell records, CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray, up almost 50% on last year, according to research by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).8 Mar 2016

This is a six year old figure but there are no suggestions to show that this has changed much.

UK vinyl sales have continued to climb in the UK despite the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on the music industry. 

New figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association – who manage Record Store Day in the UK – reveal that last month’s RSD ‘drop’ on August 29 saw vinyl sales rise 3% year on year with 2.7 million units sold so far in 2020. 

Rob Copsey Official Charts

Since the easing of various lockdowns, I have been able to restart visiting towns throughout the UK. There is change (retail) afoot. There is evidence of more individualised independent retailers of all types offering different product in a much more professional manner . Perhaps it is the Hipsterisation of many town centres eg Brixton, & Hackney in London, Salford in Manchester, The Quays in Liverpool ,Glasgow’s East End, and areas such as Handsworth in Birmingham. There is a new vibrant feel. As such, it does create a dichotomy. That is to say these changes are coming at the behest of the middle classes. The poorer areas of towns and cities are not going to attract the entrepreneurial retailer. And that is very clear from seeing some of these areas where there are loads of boarded up shops. Yet, there is always hope, as landlords will start looking at their rentals and encourage these entrepreneurs with much more competitive and attractive rates. I digress.

Over to Ari…..

Aristotle November 2021

Our ancestors invented the wheel and it remain unchanged for a long time. The opportunists saw other possibilities so the wheel went from this …….

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To this….

Formula 1 Steering Wheel

Retailing has gone from this …..

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To this….

Less Change, more Innovation