BRC Director General Helen Dickinson: UK consumers are making greater use than ever of handheld devices to shop online, particularly where it comes to buying clothes

LONDON, 2015-4-27 — /EPR Retail News/ — Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “The latest BRC-Google figures show that UK consumers are making greater use than ever of handheld devices to shop online, particularly where it comes to buying clothes. The number of people using their smartphone to search for apparel is up by 54 per cent compared to year ago, while tablet searches over the same period are up by 11 per cent.

“British shoppers are also increasingly looking abroad as well as at home to buy their clothes, with a 9 per cent rise in consumers searching online for overseas clothes retailers. This trend also applies however to shoppers abroad with a 10 per cent rise compared to last year in the number of consumers in other countries searching online for UK apparel.”

Peter Fitzgerald, Retail Director, Google, said: “Mobile continues to drive growth in the UK and this remains the case with apparel in the first quarter of the year. Interestingly, emerging markets still see strong growth from tablets, however smartphones supercharge growth for overseas consumers of UK brands.

“Multichannel retailers had a strong Q1, growing at 42% YoY. This reflects the increasing trend we see in the UK toward click-and-collect services. Consumers value the convenience of in-store collection, and particularly for apparel, the ability to easily return goods to store.

“Finally, the New Year saw an increase in sports and fitness apparel searches as Brits turn over a new leaf and focus on their health. Looking at the top queries we can see that wedding season is under way with engagement rings and wedding dresses trending on mobile devices.”

British Retail Consortium, 21 Dartmouth Street, Westminster, London, SW1H 9BP. 020 7854 8900.

Digital High Street Advisory Board formed by industry leaders unveiled five-year strategy to reinvigorate the UK’s traditional High Streets

Milton Keynes, UK, 2015-3-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Industry leaders*, organised as the Digital High Street Advisory Board, today announced a five-year strategy to reinvigorate the UK’s traditional High Streets and proposed the adoption of four major inter-dependent digital initiatives by 2020:

  • Targets for town centre infrastructure and connectivity for 2020 and beyond, including broadband, mobile and WiFi.
  • Goal to eliminate the gap in basic digital skills by 2020 for individuals, small businesses and charities via regionally coordinated programmes.
  • Centralised High Street Digital Lab to provide the UK’s 1,200 towns and their High Street businesses with ready-to-use digital capabilities and dedicated town-by-town digital skills training, leveraging a network of digital apprenticeships for every UK town centre in the UK.
  • The first UK High Street Digital Health Index, an interactive benchmark for towns and local authorities to drive assessment and change across the key measures of digital health – infrastructure, basic digital skills, High Street attraction and digital engagement.

The Digital High Street 2020 Report addresses how stakeholders in town centre communities, including small businesses, public service providers and charities, can benefit from integrating traditional High Streets with digital technologies, and compete more favourably to serve customers as they embrace proliferating digital alternatives.  It observes that although a “digital divide” is growing between those national and international firms investing aggressively in digital capabilities, and the many small, independent High Street proprietors, the groups are interdependent and success of those across the divide is critical to the success of our communities.

The Report also reinforces the importance of the digital economy to driving the economic and social vibrancy of High Streets, which stand to generate billions of pounds of additional revenue from digital interactions with the public.  The Report suggests a framework to accelerate their capabilities through private, public and third-sector collaborations and leadership from local authorities.

John Walden, Chief Executive of Home Retail Group**, and Chairman of The Digital High Street Advisory Board, said: “The digital revolution is arguably the most disruptive factor affecting our communities, but its effects are not often considered central to high street revitalisation.  Many members of UK town centres are struggling to keep up with consumers in terms of their digital capabilities, and given the pace of digital growth many towns lack sufficient infrastructure and basic digital skills.  I believe that the business-oriented Board has provided recommendations that, taken together, can restore our High Streets to vibrancy in a digital future, into 2020 and beyond.”

High Street needs to change to remain viable.  24/7 “always on” internet ‘window shopping’ has changed shopping forever.  The range of goods, pricing comparisons and home delivery can appear more attractive to consumers, while ease of parking and lack of congestion can make out of town retail parks appear attractive when compared to what could be the intrinsic benefits of many High Streets.   New solutions in retailing, logistics and traffic management are required to enable towns and cities to regenerate their High Streets to cope, take advantage of technological changes and provide solutions that mix virtual and physical in new ways, offering genuinely new and attractive shopping experiences.

With 60% of adults using a mobile phone or tablet to access the internet on the go, digital transformation of high streets would generate significant social and economic value for our communities around the country.   High streets are worth investing in with more than £150bn of retail sales influenced by digital, but retailers with services that fail to meet customers’ expectations risk losing over £12bn sales a year.  Only half of small businesses (SMEs) and charities have a website and just 33% of SMEs currently transact online, as 31% of all such organisations lack basic online skills.  Recent estimates show that digital technology could unlock £18.8 billion of revenue for SMEs, while reducing their costs by up to 20% and increasing customer satisfaction and retention.   The estimated annual social and economic value of digital inclusion for a new users going online is £1,064, rising to £3,568 for a more advanced individual or small business user.

Digital High Street Advisory Board 2020, recommendations:

Town centres need to significantly raise infrastructure and connectivity standards for 2020, by developing sufficient digital access through infrastructure beyond existing Government targets for 2017, including; i) universal fixed connectivity of not less than 24 Mbps, with 75% of the UK’s residences and businesses having access to fixed broadband speeds of 100 Mbps, ii) high speed mobile data coverage with 4G available, from multiple operators, to 98% of the population across both indoor and outdoor geographies, and iii) clear public access WiFi standards, for consumer experiences to ensure non-disruptive handoffs as consumers move among venues and providers and to encourage broader deployment.

Basic Digital Skills programme to be developed to eliminate the current gap in digital skills in our communities by 2020, to ensure that all digitally capable residents of our communities – individuals, SMEs and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors have basic digital skills.  Go ON UK*** to coordinate the management, funding and implementation of digital skills priorities as a holistic programme, with a range of public and private delivery partners.

The first High Street Digital Lab will provide the UK’s 1,200 towns and their businesses with digital capabilities from a central not-for-profit organisation. This will include the aggregation of generally available technologies, digital applications, tools, methods and training programmes, in order to provide a platform for digital consumer services for each community across the UK on behalf of its local authority, high street businesses and charities. Services will be in the form of a separate marketplace, or portal, for each community, launched and operated by the Lab through a local team of digital apprentices, leveraging as an external consumer brand.

In a first for the UK, a Digital High Street Health Index will enable towns, national and local authorities to i) assess the competitiveness of a particular local high street community or high streets generally, ii) understand the key measures of economic value creation from digital developments, and iii) inspire local authorities, town teams and private enterprises to make positive change.

Peter Fitzgerald, Director, Google UK said:

“Today, the vast majority of UK shoppers research online before they buy from a store. This means that every business is a digital business because every consumer is a digital consumer. We hope that this report will be a first step towards improving digital access and expertise among small businesses and help them grow faster and reach more customers.”

Ben Dowd, Business Director at O2 said:

“Over the next five years, we will continue to see digital technology redefining how consumers, businesses and public services interact. The Digital High Street Health Index will be a unique and critically essential part of enabling towns and villages to understand how they can put technology at the heart of their community, so that local customers and citizens can truly benefit.  Crucially, they must work with retailers to ensure they understand how technology can complement – not replace – their physical presence, as those that fail to take an integrated approach risk being left behind.“

Baroness Lane-Fox, Chair Go ON UK said:

“Lloyds Business Digital Index research has shown that 31% of organisations in the UK are lacking Basic Digital Skills. This means they could be missing out on a range of benefits, such as taking payments or donations online, or having access to a wider range of services and suppliers. Lowering this figure represents huge value both socially and economically for the UK. The proposed digital apprentices will proactively help these organisations to realise the value of being digitally skilled, and potentially help them generate more revenue from customers and donors.”

Helen Dickinson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium said:

“British high streets have weathered sweeping changes in society, economic cycles, property development and retail expansion, and the seismic impact of digital technology on communications, entertainment and commerce. Our communities have survived these changes to varying degrees but while what makes a successful high street has not fundamentally changed, the ability to achieve wider future success is now absolutely dependent on embracing the impact of digital and the recommendations of this report provide a strategy to do just that.”



For a copy of the full report and the appendices please go to:

High Street video and photography also held at:

For media enquiries please ring:

Home Retail Group:        0845 120 4365

The Digital High Street Advisory Board was established in April 2014 to further the work of the Future High Street Forum, including representation from private business, public sector and trade bodies.*  Its aims were to establish a clear strategy for delivering and future-proofing a successful

combination of ongoing new digital technologies with legacy bricks and mortar high streets and to ensure solutions are commercially viable and consumer relevant.

Under the direction of the Government’s Department of Communities and Local Government, the Future High Street Forum was formed in 2013 to bring together leaders across retail, property and business to better understand the competition town centres across the country face and to drive forward new ideas and policies.

*Board members:

John Walden, Chief Executive, Home Retail Group and Chair of the Board.

BT, Facebook, Google, Hammersons, IBM, John Lewis, Lloyds Bank, M&S, Post Office, Sainsbury’s, Telefonica, Tesco, Westfield.

** Home Retail Group is the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer with sales of around £5.7 billion in the financial year to February 2014. We sell products under three distinct and complementary retail brands – Argos, Homebase and Habitat. The Group employs some 47,000 people across the business. For more information visit

*** Go ON UK is an agile cross-sector digital skills charity established by Baroness Lane-Fox in 2012. Go ON UK is a partnership organisation and has the chief executives of nine major organisations around its boardroom table – Age UK, Argos, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, E.ON, EE, Lloyds Bank, Post Office and TalkTalk. Working with its partners, Go ON UK’s vision is to empower everyone in the UK to reach their digital potential.


British Retail Consortium: Q4 2014 online retail figures clearly demonstrate the appetite of consumers across the globe for UK retail

LONDON, 2015-2-2 — /EPR Retail News/ — Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “Today’s figures clearly demonstrate the appetite of consumers across the globe for UK retail. This presents an enormous market opportunity for retailers regardless of their size.

“One of the key trends retailers will be paying close attention to is, in the emerging markets, the first digital point of contact for a huge number of consumers is a smartphone or tablet device. This is because in many of those markets mobile infrastructure is far superior to the fixed line broadband networks in more established economies like the UK. This means that if Britain’s retailers want to take advantage of the interest being abroad they’ll need to continue their investment in device-optimised platforms; ensuring that no matter how a customer first comes into contact with them they can offer the world beating service that is the hallmark of British retailing.

“It is absolutely clear from today’s statistics that there is an international market for UK retailers and there is strong international demand for their products. In order to take best advantage of this it is incumbent on governments and international regulators to ensure that they help, not hinder, UK retailers reach keen consumers around the globe.”

Peter Fitzgerald, Retail Director, Google, said: “The growth of mobile and connected devices continued to power our clients’ Export efforts in 2014, with many of the largest emerging and established markets seeing astounding smartphone growth. Understanding the role of mobile in the purchase process is vital if retailers are to unlock its full value.

“In the UK you can’t talk about Q4 without mentioning Black Friday, which saw phenomenal uptake with four times as many searches for Black Friday deals in 2014 than in the previous year. Given these impressive figures, we expect to see interest in Black Friday continue to grow in 2015.

“British leisure brands really blazed a trail this Christmas, with an impressive 285% increase in searches compared to the same period in 2013. Beauty and personal care also saw a real surge of interest, with fragrances, candles, and skincare products all seeing impressive year on year search growth.”

British Retail Consortium, 21 Dartmouth Street, Westminster, London, SW1H 9BP.
020 7854 8900.

BRC-GOOGLE ONLINE RETAIL MONITOR Q3 2014: Total search volumes for home and garden grew by 15% in the third quarter of 2014 vs same quarter last year

LONDON, 2014-10-27— /EPR Retail News/ — Total search volumes for home and garden grew by 15% in the third quarter of 2014 compared with the same quarter a year earlier.

Search volumes on smartphones outpaced search volumes on tablets, with growth of 41% compared with growth on tablets of 22%.

BRC Director General, Helen Dickinson, said: “This month’s monitor confirms yet again that technology is playing an increasingly significant part in all aspects of consumers’ lives. Possibly one of the biggest decisions a consumer will make, taking out a mortgage, is now heavily influenced by online research with our data showing that online mortgage searches correlate strongly with mortgage approvals.

“Given this trend, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing people take to the internet to decorate and furnish their homes as well as finding the funds to purchase them. Search volumes in the home and garden category have risen 15% compared with the same period last year. This is likely due to an increasingly healthy housing market as sales in these categories tend to be directly impacted by house sales.

“It’s also interesting to note which devices customers are using to view which categories of product. Smaller items feature more significantly in the smartphone category while ‘beds’ top the list of searches across all devices. However, the further down rankings you go, the greater the mix of products. This suggests that consumers are becoming more and more comfortable searching for a wider variety of products on-the-go than has previously been the case.”

Peter Fitzgerald, Retail Director, Google, said: “Home and Garden continues to be one of the fastest growing online retail sectors with 15% YoY growth in the third quarter. A warm July led to slower YoY growth but that changed in August when ex-hurricane Bertha came to the UK leading to a marked increase in home searches. The August bank holiday also brought an increase in home searches as the UK looked to home improvement over the last long weekend before Christmas. Furniture and furnishings were particularly popular this summer as we used the summer to redecorate. While garden searches grew slower this quarter – evidence of the early summer we had this year.”

British Retail Consortium, 21 Dartmouth Street, Westminster, London, SW1H 9BP.
020 7854 8900.