Retail exposed to changing shopping habits

October 14, 2009
Oct. 14 – Today's new retail reality has transformed the traditional relationship between consumers and retailers. According to Karabus Management, a leading retail advisory firm and subsidiary of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Canada, tightened budgets and the variety of shopping options available to consumers from traditional brick and mortar to online have forced retailers to re-examine their value proposition.

Antony Karabus, President and CEO of Karabus Management offers these predictions for the remainder of 2009 and into 2010:

- Luxury was the hardest hit in 2008, and while we see a modest recovery in that segment, it still has a long way to go.
- Value retailers will thrive.
- Emphasis on health and wellness will represent a strong trend. Expect continuing gains in organic and healthy alternatives.
- Diversity will also play a role in redefining retail. With growing ethnic diversification, expect to see retailers catering to the needs of first and second generation immigrants.
- Sales and margins will remain under pressure. Retailers will only spend money on store design and remodelling when absolutely required.
- Grocery store sales will remain stable.
- Premium casual restaurants will continue to do well through the remainder of 2009; however, as many consumers will elect not to patronize higher end restaurants, they will likely take a hit.

"Thriving retailers are not only managing their financial operations tightly; they are offering customers clear value, differentiating themselves through service, assortment and the in-store experience," says Mr. Karabus and provides these to five strategies for retailers to emerge stronger from the recession:

- Optimize cash and cost management.
- Understand what is relevant and motivates your customer.
- Use science to improve gross margins and inventory productivity.
- Invest in technology correctly and on the right projects.
- Get your supply chain right.

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