I was genuinely amazed as well as delighted last month when I was told that ETO had been voted Best Publication in the inaugural Xcite Awards, not least because we were in a category with some very well respected names with far bigger readerships due to them being consumer magazines. A sincere Thank You to everyone who voted for us.
For most of my life I have been an early adopter of new technology, sometimes for no apparent reason other than desire. This hasn’t always made me popular with those who share my life. For instance, in 1986 I paid more for my computer than my car, despite the fact that all it could really do at that time was run a handful of distressingly expensive games (it was an Amiga 1000, retro gamers).
I recently decided to buy a bicycle. What could be simpler? Hah! I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about bikes until I started to read up on them. Sadly I found reviews were less than helpful as they are written by and for people who know that ‘derailleur gear ratio calculator’ isn’t just a collection of four random words.
Exclusive deals between brands and distributors in individual territories are common, and with good reason. Such agreements can benefit both parties; the distributor acquires every retailer who wants the product as a customer and it can set a wholesale price it is comfortable with, while the brand gets a sales team who will give its products more focus. It is also easier to establish who is selling what, allowing the brand to direct support to those who most deserve it.
Westfield Stratford City opened its doors for the first time last month and 200,000 eager consumers poured through them, reportedly spending an astonishing £20m in the first week. Wow! What happened to the cost-cutting count-every-penny economy?
One of last month’s oddest news stories concerned a dispute between leading condom brand Durex and its Indian suppliers. According to the Daily Mail Britain is now facing a shortage of condoms. Yes, gasp away.
At the time of writing the UK High Street is buckling with bad news. In June alone, Carpetright, Homeform and Thorntons announced it was closing stores while Haldanes Supermarket, Jane Norman, TJ Hughes and Habitat went into administration. Comet was also looking less from healthy.
At times last month there were ominous echoes of December 2008 – the month when the media was bursting with stories of High Street names shedding jobs, losing unthinkable amounts of money or just collapsing altogether, like that episode of Dr Who when all the stars twinkle out of existence.
If I’m being honest, I was expecting last month’s visit to Scala’s trade fair to be pretty much like previous ones. Sure, it’s a remarkable facility, and the first time visitor tends to come away hugely impressed, but after 40 years of trading I doubt they get to see that many first timers anymore.
I hope that this year’s Valentine’s Day was the culmination of a successful trading period for all retailing readers of ETO. It should have been - Verdict Research, the retail arm of business information company Datamonitor, predicted that British consumers would spend over £334m on Valentine gifts this year.