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15 Jan
As the decorations come down, the last mince pie eaten and the labour force returns to work, festive trading numbers have begun to emerge.
With large retailers such as Next and Marks & Spencer reporting disappointing trading figures, it gives an idea of the scale of market as a whole. 2015 in general already proved to be a volatile year for retailers and the run-up to Christmas was supposed to make up for the shortfall.
We carried out some research on the market as a whole and attributed heavy and unpredictable discounting, online shopping and interestingly, stock availability, as key issues that retailers faced. Alongside that, our findings showed that 85 percent of retailers without an online presence suffered the most. Failure of retailers to address this in 2016 could prove to be fatal. Primark is one of the few remaining retailers that does not sell items online and they reported flat sales.
Joshua Bamfield, Professor of the Centre for Retail Research, said: “Household name chains could cut 100 or more of their stores to focus more online. There are a number of walking wounded. Due to constant sales many now refuse to buy items unless there are big discounts.”
Next reported a 0.4 percent increase in total sales with a drop in retail sales by 0.5 percent for the 60 days to 24th December. It’s online and catalogue service, Directory, fared slightly better with sales increasing by 2 percent. Marks and Spencer faced a 5.8 percent fall in sales of general in the 13 weeks to 26th December. Sales of its popular food sales had its best ever Christmas where sales climbed 0.4 percent in the period. Its Chief Executive is to step down in April.
There is however, some optimistic news. John Lewis reported a stellar Christmas trading period as sales rose 5.1 percent compared to last year. 
Conversely, retailers with a strong or complete online presence have seen sizeable growth. A good example of this is Ted Baker. Their retail sales grew by 10 percent with online sales up 39.1 percent. They maintained that avoiding pre-Christmas promotions by starting sales after Christmas and not taking part in Black Friday also contributed to its positive figures.
ASOS, an online fashion and beauty retailer, enjoyed a jump of 22 percent in total retail in the four months to December.
It’ll be interesting to see how this month and 2016 as a whole unfolds. Despite higher household incomes this year and a fall in oil prices, will this mean tills will be ringing this year? Not necessarily. Retailers must play it smart this year and combine efficiency with technology to stay significant. They will also have to address the issue of attracting shoppers that are drunk on discounts sooner rather than later. The bloodbath that was predicted after Christmas didn’t quite materialise albeit some retailers are walking wounded, it’s time for retailers to build on their successes.
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16 Dec
At Competitor Monitor, we track thousands of toys every day and regularly come across interesting findings in our data. This week, in honour of the new Star Wars movie, we decided to explore further into this data to examine price changes and the availability of popular Star Wars toys in the run up to Christmas. 
Merchandise based on popular film franchises such as Star Wars can be a real money spinner for film studios and retailers alike. With The Force Awakens instalment due for release in the UK today, has it had much impact on the pricing of Star Wars merchandise over the past month?
Let’s take a look:
  • There are currently over 750 Star Wars branded toys for sale online with prices ranging from £1.84 all the way up to £350.00.  Amazon currently lists the largest number of Star Wars toys than any other retailer and carries out the most price changes.
  • Our research shows that overall, prices for Star Wars branded toys have fluctuated in price rather frequently over the past 30 days. 
  • Many retailers have kept static prices on the newest and most popular products but retailers that had lower prices to begin with have gradually increased their prices to be more in line with the market. 
  • Star Wars The Force Awakens Micro Machines Millennium Falcon Playset had the most price changes in the last 30 days; 30 changes with 15 price increases and 15 price decreases.
  • The most popular Star Wars branded LEGO product with the most price changes was the Star Wars 75093: Death Star Final Duel. There has been up to a 24 percent reduction on this product in the last 30 days which might explain the shortage of this item being in stock. It is currently out of stock on LEGO’s own online shop – parents take note!
  • The LEGO Star Wars 75104: Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle which featured on the 2015 DreamToys Top 12 Christmas Toys list, can be found cheaper at around half of retailers but the price has increased at four retailers in the past week.
  • Last year’s film hit Frozen has much less variety of toys on the market this year. With price changes also less frequent, even on the popular toys such as the Disney Frozen Sing Along with Elsa, it’s safe to say that Star Wars is dominating the toy market this year. 
We will be monitoring the products above to see how they change in price and availability into the New Year. Let us know if you wish to make any comments on this blog, we’d love to hear from you!
Not using Competitor Monitor? We help global retailers monitor prices and promotional trends thus outsmarting the market. Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you stay ahead of the game
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11 Dec
With new research indicating that like-for-like sales for November fell 0.4 percent compared to November last year, it’s reasonable to assume that Black Friday hasn’t quite lived up to expectations this year, especially for retail stores in the UK. 
The Retail Sales Monitor, carried out by BRC-KPMG, also highlighted that excluding online sales, only two categories (home accessories and furniture) showed growth in stores driven by Black Friday sales. However, online shoppers spent a whopping £1.1bn on non-food products contributing to an annual rise of 11.8 percent, clearly causing disruption to the typical Christmas shopping trends.
From our own perspective, turning on the telly on the morning of Black Friday, which showed only a handful of shoppers queuing outside supermarkets, we had a gut feeling that last year’s antics would not be repeated. Despite higher household disposable income and the bargains that didn’t quite tickle shoppers’ fancy, it seemed Black Friday was an online affair this year. It did however make us think that ASDA was holding a Magic-8 ball all along, considering they bowed out of the event they were credited for bringing to the UK back in 2013.
David McCorquodale, Head of Retail at KPMG, said: "November's relatively flat sales figures are a reality check for the retail sector with consumers holding off for a Black Friday bargain pitted against retailers determined to hold onto their hard-earned margins. Despite the hype around Black Friday, there was minimal loosening of the family purse strings compared to last year."
So with this year’s build up to Christmas probably one of the hardest to read, how are things going to unfold for retailers? We believe with online retailers making inroads with consumers, high-street retailers will continue to feel the pinch. However, there are always those last minute shoppers that can provide that much needed footfall, especially with last dates for online orders ranging between the 16th and 23rd December. Our research suggests that nearly 40% of shoppers plan to do Christmas shopping in brick and mortar stores. With Worldpay’s data showing that Christmas Eve 2014 was its single busiest day of the year, processing 26m transactions in the UK, could be a sign that the retail stores might just have a Merry Christmas after all.
Nevertheless, with promotional planning become increasingly difficult and with a myriad of new shopping days added to the retail calendar, have you thought about how to gain that competitive edge? We at Competitor Monitor help global retailers monitor prices and promotional trends thus outsmarting the market. Our fundamental aim is to help the world’s leading companies to stay ahead of the game so why not get in touch today or alternatively take our tour to find out more!
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04 Dec
Last week, we discussed the impact that Amazon’s new Prime Now service is having on the high street. Now we’re interested to see the affect it’s having on online retailers.

The gloves are off

Well for one, Argos has stepped up its game. By leveraging its network of stores around the country, its Fast Track service offers same day delivery, 7 days a week. They guarantee that if you buy before 6pm, you will receive your delivery by 10pm, with a choice of four delivery slots. How much will it cost you…£3.95, without the need for a subscription. With 20,000 products eligible for this delivery method and 95% coverage of UK postcodes, which is more than Amazon, you have to doff your hat to them!
Bryan Roberts, Kantar Retail said: "In terms of customers being able to order online as late as 6pm and receive products on their doorstep that evening, Argos is showing its rivals a clean pair of heels with this new speedy nationwide service."


Then there’s Shutl. They partner with local retailers and have just recently announced that River Island are the first retailer in the UK to sign up for their ‘Click and Don’t Collect’ service. This service offers shoppers who have opted for Click-and-Collect the option to change to Shutl’s service and receive their order in 90 mins, paying £4.95 for the privilege. In some words, this is effectively an expansion of the popular Click-and-Collect services offered by many multi-channel retailers.
However, not all retailers are taking the fight to Amazon with John Lewis even going to the extent of questioning the free Click-and-Collect model. Believing it to be unsustainable, its charging £2 for its Click-and-Collect service on orders less than £30. It may well be an admiral decision, but could this spark off another evolution in online shopping? It would make sense as research suggests that retailers are losing sales by refunds and constant issues with stock levels through Click-and-Collect.
In hindsight, our own research highlights that online shoppers don’t necessarily want their items delivered so speedily with only 30% opting to pay extra for services such as next day delivery. Then there is the question of sustainability. Our guess is that Amazon is subsidising the cost of these deliveries but for how long can this carry on? Well, Amazon really doesn’t do conventional so our guess is that faster deliveries are here to stay for the time being. Likewise, you’ll probably see a drone hovering above your house in the future, which will move the goalposts yet again.
Nevertheless, if you are an online retailer, have you thought about how to gain that competitive edge? We at Competitor Monitor help global retailers monitor prices and promotional trends thus outsmarting the market. Our fundamental aim is to help the world’s leading companies to stay ahead of the game so why not get in touch today or alternatively take our tour to find out more!
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27 Nov
We thought it would be a bit rude for us not blog about Amazon Prime Now considering it has recently been launched in our home city of Newcastle upon Tyne!
However, we Geordies, like the rest of the masses, must be Amazon Prime members with the Prime Now app installed on our smartphones before we can enjoy the benefits of the service. We don’t think this will be too much of an issue considering the service has already proved to be a hit in launch cities such as London and Birmingham where customers have given it a positive thumbs up. Nevertheless, with coverage looking to expand even further in 2016, it begs the question, what impact is this having on the already struggling high street?
With much debate over the past few months about the scale of shop closures on the high street, factors such as business rates, regulation and online shopping, are cited as the main reasons behind the decline. However, our research suggests that changing consumer behaviour is the key factor behind the shifting landscape, thus, prompting online retailers to innovate further and forcing traditional brick and mortar stores to play catch up.
Consumers today are a more time-constrained, savvier bunch and increasingly shopping online to fulfil their needs. Recent research suggests that online sales, as a proportion of total retail spend, more than tripled from 2007 to 2014. Now, with a service such as Amazon’s, which can efficiently deliver goods to your door an hour after you have ordered them, online retail growth will only go in one direction and that’s upwards. 
Mark Hudson, lead retailer at PwC, said earlier this year: "We're again seeing the continued effects of the digital revolution and consequent change in customer behaviour play out on the high street - these trends have been with us for some time and we should expect the rate of closures to continue. Rather than try to recreate the past, the high street needs to evolve to be relevant to the future."
So let’s put it in perspective. There is a fee to pay for the privilege (£79 for the yearly Prime Membership plus £6.99 for the actual one-hour service), but if you frequently purchase your goods online and more specifically Amazon, you cannot really argue with the charge. Just imagine your kettle stops functioning and you are in a desperate need of a cuppa or you have an afternoon tea party that starts in a few hours. You could have a new kettle delivered to your door in an hour just by making a few taps on your smartphone’s keypad rather than visiting your local small appliance store. It just takes convenience to a whole new level that frankly the high-street retailer cannot compete with. With that in mind, we just had to try it out for ourselves! We placed an order for a laser toner cartridge for our printer using the Prime Now app and started the stopwatch...48 minutes later, we had taken delivery. Impressed we were!
It did get us thinking though…is this a sustainable business model? Are Amazon even making a profit from providing such a service? Time will tell but we would bet on Amazon considering they have challenged the status quo on many occasions before. Stay tuned for part two where we discuss the impact that Amazon Prime Now is having on its fellow online retailers…
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24 Nov
With only three days to go, the biggest shopping day of the year is drawing upon us. Overtaking Boxing Day as the day where British shoppers go bargain hunting, Black Friday 2015 is going to be, according to retail experts, the biggest shopping day in UK history with online sales expecting to surpass £1bn. An impressive figure, this would be nearly £200m more than last year, where UK shoppers spent £1 million every three minutes on Black Friday. 
In a recent blog post, we talked about how the UK is the e-commerce capital of the EU with 79 percent of Britons making an online purchase in the past year. With events such as Black Friday and the fact it is so much bigger in the UK than elsewhere in Europe, it will solidify the UK’s place at the top of the rankings. The next biggest market is Germany, where online sales are expected to bring in £281m, a fraction of what is expected here in the UK.
James Miller, Senior Retail Consultant at Experian Marketing Services, said: “The 2015 Christmas period is on track to be another record year for online retail in the UK. We expect that Black Friday will continue to break new ground for online shopping, passing the billion pound mark for the first time.”

Who’s in?

Amazon, Tesco, John Lewis, Curry’s, Argos and Sainsbury’s, to name a few, have all confirmed they will be taking part in this year’s Black Friday event. These retailers along with other major retailers have already started to promote their deals ahead of Black Friday to get hungry shoppers warmed up. However, due to the ugly scenes at retail outlets last year, some retailers have bowed out with Asda being the most notable absence. Seen as the company that introduced Black Friday to the UK back in 2013, Asda has said that due to customer feedback, it will not be participating in this year’s event. As an alternative, it will be offering savings of £26m across its products throughout November and December, rather than drastically reducing the prices of big-ticket items. Our research suggests that the products sitting atop of shopping lists include an array of big-ticket items such as TV’s and fridge-freezers, electrical goods on all scales, clothing and footwear, makeup, books and media, toys, homeware and video games.


However, amidst the allure of bargain big-ticket items and the positive rhetoric around record-breaking revenue, it begs the question, what are the negative aspects of this one-day sales frenzy? One considerable factor is that last year’s Black Friday caused a massive knock on effect over trading over the Christmas period. Figures show that 2014 saw the weakest December sales growth since 2008 at just 1 percent and footfall is expected to be 8.8 percent lower on Boxing Day than it was last year. Furthermore, the amount of impulse purchases made by shoppers due to low prices could result in a startlingly high number of items being returned. Research suggests that these returns alone could cost online retailers around £180m!
With that said, having the popular Black Friday event in the retail calendar has retailers using Competitor Monitor to gain insight into competitor activity. Our service is helping them understand more about pricing and promotional trends, offering full visibility and the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Why not get in touch with us today to find out how you can get ahead or take our tour to find out more!
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10 Nov

It’s that time of the year again! With Christmas only seven weeks away, discussions in retail circles are around the ‘must have’ toy of the season. Historically, if you were to bet on this, a technological gadget would have most likely spring to mind. However, things are shaping up to be slightly different this year with high-tech gadgetry being shunned in favour of more traditional toys.

The Toy Retailers Association have recently revealed the 2015 DreamToys list, a list believed to be the twelve must have toys this year. Decided on by a panel of selectors made up of leading UK toy retailers, the list is heavily laden with toys with a traditional-style of play. A large part of the list is focused around movie-related toys and one movie in particular, Star Wars. With three of the twelve predicted top selling toys in the list related to Star Wars, it has more than any other brand.

Gary Grant, Chairman of the DreamToys committee, said: “2015 is going to be a vintage year for toys. Strong entertainment brands like Frozen, Thunderbirds and Star Wars are appearing alongside creative brands like Little Live Pets and classic evergreens such as Lego, ever more stimulating playsets for under-fives such as Toot-Toot or Paw Patrol and family games like Pie Face.”

He added: “While the blockbuster licences may steal the headlines, it is exciting to see innovation throughout the list with manufacturers successfully combining this with traditional play in, for example, the IDO3D craft set, and Shopkins has become the new craze of the year, embracing all that is good about toys.”

So now the list has been released, it begs the question as to what effect it will have on the toy market? UK retailers hoping the products included in the DreamToys list will lead to the market growing by £100m in the run up to Christmas. Our research confirms that the UK's toy market is worth over £3bn and with an average of £300 spent annually on toys for each child up to the age of 11. Taking this into consideration, it will be interesting to see how the festive period plays out for retailers and whether a battle will ensue on the high street. With ASDA only just announcing its early Christmas Big Brand Toy Sale, which includes toys from the DreamToys list, some may say that the fuse has been lit.

We at Competitor Monitor help global retailers monitor prices and promotional trends thus outsmarting the market. Our fundamental aim is to help the world’s leading companies to stay competitive so why not get in touch today or alternatively take our tour to find out more! 

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05 Oct

According to the latest figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK is now the e-commerce capital of the European Union (EU).

With 79 percent of Britons making an online purchase in the past year, the UK is far above the EU average of 50 percent. Other EU countries sharing the UK’s enthusiasm for e-commerce and boasted similar figures are Scandinavian countries including Denmark, Norway and Sweden with figures of 78 percent, 77 percent and 75 percent respectively. Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Germany also followed the trend making it into the 70 percent club.

However, at the other end of the scale, Romania, Bulgaria and Italy lagged far behind the EU average and held the lowest percentage of online shoppers at 10 percent, 17 percent and 22 percent respectively.

Latest figures also show that in the space of five years, between 2008 and 2013, e-commerce sales in the UK grew by a staggering 66 percent. Experts suggest the reason for this astonishing gain is due to the boundaries between online and offline shopping continuing to blur reflecting a growing shift towards Click & Collect services.

Julie Deane, Managing Director at The Cambridge Satchel Company, commented: “These days it is possible to reach customers in parts of the world a UK brand would not have had reach – total accessibility, global reach – the digital platform allows us to know our customers like never before.”

Moreover, additional figures released by the ONS suggest that e-commerce represents 20 percent of UK business turnover and exceeds the EU average of 15 percent. The UK’s share has increased from 16 percent from 2009 but still trails far behind the Republic of Ireland which sits at 52 percent.

So what do we make of the statistics? Well, they make for some interesting reading! With such shifts in consumer behaviour and the growth of e-commerce globally, you can’t help but think that online retail will only get bigger. We at Competitor Monitor help global retailers monitor prices and promotional trends thus outsmarting the market. Our fundamental aim is to help the world’s leading companies to stay competitive so why not get in touch today or alternatively take our tour to find out more!

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14 Sep
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03 Sep
At a time when the UK is battling against an obesity epidemic, (with two-thirds of men and women classed as being overweight, the sportswear market is booming.

Compared to 2010 when the UK sportswear market was worth £4.62bn, last year this number grew substantially to reach £5.91bn, as British consumers go crazy for brands incorporating fashion, fitness and wearable tech. Looking ahead to 2019, a report from Key Note expects sportswear sales to hit £8.65bn if current rates continue.
Female fitness on the rise
Key Note points to the increasing diversity of sports classes and fashionable, tech-focused sportswear as a reason for the particular spike in women’s contribution to this trend.

With countless Instagram accounts dedicated to hashtags focused around #strongnotskinny, #cleaneating and #fitspo, millennial women are more exposed to and obsessed with celebrities leading this aspirational lifestyle. This demographic strive to be like them, hitting the gym and watching what they eat.

At Competitor Monitor we urge sports/fashion brands to sit up and take into account this rapidly growing market and expand their ranges for women. Female-only fitness wear brands such as Sweaty Betty are popping up everywhere, so it is worthwhile to consider how prices of items differ between competitors and identify where there could be a gap.

It’s not just the products, but also about how the female fitness and sportswear trends are marketed. Nike, Puma and Reebok are pioneering the way in terms of promoting a girl-friendly focus, with Reebok aiming to smash the 30% of women who are targeted by major sports brands.
Sportswear goes geek
Thanks to Ralph Lauren debuting a smart shirt for athletes last year, featuring built-in sensors that track the wearer’s movement and heart-rate, Key Note predicts that smart fitness clothing to take off massively.

Just as mobile phones and other gadgets are constantly developing, brands are pushing the boundaries when it comes to the capabilities of clothing. While Nike’s Nike+ is able to accrue vast amounts of consumer data, Adidas recently bought Runtastic for £154m, a sign that tuning into the connected runner is the way forward.
Stay competitive
So, with demand and availability of female-friendly and tech-heavy sportswear on the rise, at Competitor Monitor it’s our job to be monitoring this extremely lucrative market.

Want to see what your competitors are doing in this area? Let us help you to stay ahead of the game and get in touch to see how we can help.
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01 Sep
The UK has been subjected to cooler weather this summer which has unfortunately affected sales of BBQ related products, as we discussed on a recent blog post. However, it seems that fruits that are synonymous with summer are still reigning champions and experiencing a healthy growth in sales.
Demand increasing for bountiful berries
British Summer Fruits observes that sales of berries will collectively hit £1 billion this year, a huge jump from £300 million in 2004. The industry body, which represents 98% of berries sold in supermarkets, has also seen record sales of raspberries from all countries, up 16% from the previous year’s £158 million.

Sales of blueberries are up by nearly a third and blackberries 6% in the year to mid-July. Interestingly, demand for the British classic, strawberries, has only seen a 0.6% increase year on year; they been in the limelight a little too long?

Findings from Waitrose also show a similar trend, with berries and cherries being the ‘favourites of the fruit aisle’, seeing sales rising by 30% and 31% respectively. Meanwhile, discount supermarket chains like Lidl and Aldi have also seen a rise in sales of fruit, with the latter seeing sales of strawberries increase by a fifth year on year.
Satisfying the health conscious trend
We’re blending and juicing more than ever, with John Lewis selling one Nutribullet every four minutes!. Berries seem to be the favourite smoothie flavour with their low sugar content and wide variety.

With summer being the best time of year to buy the freshest berries, and with the ‘clean eating’, smoothie drinking trend sweeping across the UK, it’s easy to see why demand is so high.

At Competitor Monitor, we also think it could be that we’re becoming more educated on the generous health benefits of these colourful fruits, particularly with blueberries being hailed as a “superfood” by many nutritionists.
Where Competitor Monitor comes in
Seasonal and food trends aren’t always predictable, but at Competitor Monitor we can help you to monitor prices and outsmart the market. Our aim is to help the world’s leading companies to stay competitive, whatever the trend. Why not take a tour to find out more?
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24 Aug
Brick-and-mortar stores are set to see a wave of shoppers stocking up on back-to-school essentials. A poll by FatWallet (June 2015) found that 91% of US parents plan to shop in-store for school items, compared to 37% of those who chose online shopping

So what is it that people choosing to buy in shops rather than online? A study by Deloitte (via eMarketer) has found that US parents planned to purchase the majority of back-to-school items in-store rather than online.
It seems that technology and wearables are most likely to be bought online, particularly by students, eMarketer found. A mixture of both shopping in stores and digitally seems to be a trend for items like clothes and accessories; consumers may like to shop around for the best deals and offers before purchasing.
Although the back-to-school purchasing started at the beginning of summer, shops should expect to see heavy traffic in the coming weeks as the start of September draws near. eMarketer found that 54% of parents claimed they would complete shopping related to school less than one month before the start of the new school year.
Technology reigns over notepads and pens
A recent study by Twitter has shown that it’s not just your standard pens, pads and notebooks that today’s students will be filling their backpacks with. Technologies that were once a luxury such as tablets, laptops and headphones are now commonplace in the classroom.

Twitter’s findings showed that many of their younger users are saving some of their summer job wages to buy their own tech products with 66% of teens and 58% of 18-25 year olds covering r the costs themselves. Headphones came out as the most wanted item for teens (40%), followed by wearable technology (32%), laptops (15%) and smartphones (15%).

Be aware of the power of recommendations from other Twitter users too, as highlighted by the study: 47% of millennials said tweets from those who have already purchased a product are an important factor when it comes to deciding what brand to go for.

The appearance of a product also plays an important part of the decision making process, with 44% of teens citing product images as key in swaying their decision. Cost, of course is an important factor but less than half of those asked said that offers and deals mattered when making their decisions.
Spending & Decision Power of Mums
Twitter’s research and a 2014 Deloitte study highlight how Mums hold the power when it comes to fulfilling teen and young peoples’’ back-to-school wishlists, with laptops being the most wanted item for both age groups. 69% of mums say they check Twitter at least once a day, partly looking out for information on the best deals to help them select the best retailer to purchase from.

At Competitor Monitor, we are also interested in how big-name brands change their prices over time, all fighting for consumers’ attention and money.

If you are a retailer, this is where we can come in and help you to monitor prices and outsmart the market.
Take a tour and find out more.
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18 Aug
In one of our recent blog posts, we explored the findings of trends and searches based on the topic of ‘summer’ from Google. The results were fascinating and insightful, highlighting what goes on in the minds of Brit as we endure the warmer months.
BBQ season: A wash-out
They say that if you don’t like the weather in Britain, wait a minute. And it would seem that in those rare minutes of sunshine, us Brits rush out to have a BBQ with our nearest and dearest.

Unfortunately though, this year, those bursts of sunshine have been few and far between, which has affected retail spending. Despite shops cutting prices on BBQ essentials to try and get consumers to spend more, it seems the wet weather has truly dampened our spirits and we aren’t even trying to get our grill on..

According to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), UK retail spending increased by only 2.2% in July, compared to the same period last year, which saw a 2.9% rise in July. This slow growth rate also extends between May and July: food sales were only up 0.1% during this time, compared with non-food sales at 3.7%.

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of food industry body IGD, commented on this to City AM newspaper:
“Food and drink sales are particularly influenced by the weather at this time of year. July began with a heatwave and strong food sales but the rest of the month was colder and wetter than average and July’s overall performance disappointed after a run of more encouraging months.”
Not all rain clouds and dampened spirits
On the other side, figures from Nielsen show a slightly more positive picture, with the soft drinks category seeing a +3.9% rise in year-on-year sales, with beers, wines & spirits seeing the strongest category growth (+3.1%) aside from general merchandise (+4.6%).

Meanwhile, fruit and vegetables returned to positive sales growth (+0.2%), although packaged grocery and dairy experienced the biggest declines, -4.2% and -3.8% respectively. Nielsen also released stats showing that our of the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets, Morrisons sales increased 0.1% year while Asda sales were down 3.2% and the Co-Operative returned to year-on-year growth for the first time in four periods.

However we look at it, these statistics are a reminder of just how dependent retailer and category performance, along with traditional summer events, are on the weather, in the short term.
Stay on top of trends, whatever the weather
Nothing can predict or outsmart Mother Nature, but at Competitor Monitor we CAN help you to monitor prices and outsmart the market. Our aim is to help the world’s leading companies to stay competitive, whatever the trend - take a tour to find out more.
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11 Aug
The sixth series of Great British Bake Off (GBBO) has once again proved to be a recipe for success, with the first episode of the series pulling in 9.3million viewers, that’s 43% of all TV watchers.  

Up by almost 2 million viewers compared to last year, these figures highlight just how popular the show is in the UK, fuelling the growing desire for all things food and baking.
Satisfying our hunger
At Competitor Monitor, we wondered what impact this cultural phenomenon is having on the demand and cost of culinary items.

Annual foodie dates in the calendar, such as Pancake Day, Easter and Christmas, have always seen a rise in the sale of baking utensils, but stats from shopping insight consultancy, IRI, show this has surged during every season of the show as it continues to grow in popularity.

[Source: This Is Money]
Although Tesco saw a 30% rise in demand for cake decorations during GBBO last year and has forecasted that this will be as high as 40% this season.

Interestingly, items such as flour, sugar and cooking chocolate saw a slight dip in price AFTER the series ended, according to supermarket data. So you may want to to keep that in mind and wait until after the finale to bake to take advantage of the cheaper deals!
A nation of bakers
According to IRI, sales of baking products have risen by a dramatic 62% since 2007, but this has also seen the price of baking products also increase, mostly driven by the higher costs of dried fruit and wheat.

Despite rising costs, the trend for baking hasn’t slowed down, as people enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and producing homemade meals and treats for their families and friends.

Either way, as Tesco homebaking buyer Darren Atherton commented on the subject, this can only be a positive thing:
“The Great British Bake Off is the biggest thing to have happened to homebaking since cake mixes first appeared nearly half a century ago and has inspired a whole new generation of younger bakers.”

But with so many people baking, what about shop-bought cakes? Retail analyst Mintel found that sales of manufactured cakes have dropped in favour of homemade, though if you make it yourself, it’s practically a meal!
Monitor price, stay competitive
Along with enjoying soggy bottoms and cheeky innuendos from the tent, we at Competitor Monitor will be watching the prices of popular baking products to see how prices fluctuate throughout season 6.

In the meantime, let Competitor Monitor help YOU to improve price competitiveness and profits. We monitor thousands of sites across the globe and over 20 million unique products across various industries, from FMCG to lifestyle - get in touch with us today.
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04 Aug
It can be hard to imagine a time before Google. How did we find out otherwise unknown information before the global search engine came into fruition and organised the world’s information, making it universally accessible?

Whatever the time of year or occasion, millions flock to the site, but with summer being so unpredictable in the UK, at Competitor Monitor it got us thinking about the mindset of Brits and what they are asking and thinking about throughout the warmer months.

Thanks to Google releasing insights into their search data, we have found some fascinating answers.
Fly Away, Let’s Fly, Fly Away
It may come as no surprise that as we reach summer, people start to think about where to go on holiday and what to take. With swimming being one of the key activities if going abroad to a hot country, many want to know how many calories it burns, while parents are keen to know when their baby is old enough to go in the water.
Looking Good On The Beach
Just as everything in the fashion world, trends never stand still and beachwear is no different. Interestingly, micro bikinis have entered straight at the search top spot, followed by the tankini (+1,500% YOY);  high-neck bikini top (+1,100% YOY), colour block bikini (+760% YOY) and plus-size bikinis (+640% YOY).
Sunglasses have also seen a shift in styles year over year, with the searches for Polarised sunglasses , up by 45%. Aviators are proving to be a timeless choice with searches, up by 26%. It seems as well that shoppers are making the sensible choice as prescription sunglasses have seen an increase of 17% this year.
The pressure to have a golden glow when the weather calls for you to show more skin is on the minds of many in the summer months. With increasing caution around the risks of skin cancer, it seems that faking it is the winning route Fake tanning saw a 32% increase of searches (including ‘best fake tan’), while searches for spray tanning and ‘fake bakes’ were up by 8% and 3% respectively.  
Trends Over Time
As Brits we’re known for our surge of enthusiasm the moment the sun comes out as it means BBQ time and swimming! Have a look below from Google’s data, showing how trends for both have changed over time, in correlation with the hottest temperatures. For instance, searches for ‘BBQ’ peaked on 17th July, the hottest day in 2014.
A Lesson for Retailers
So, what can all of these insights tell us? Statistics highlighting trends reflect constantly changing behaviours of the ever-evolving consumer. For brands,  marketers and retailers, being reactive to such trends is absolutely key in terms of maximising opportunities or ensuring your prices are competitive in the market..

That’s where Competitor Monitor comes in. We monitor thousands of sites across the globe and over 20 million unique products across various industries, from lifestyle to FMCG. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you to improve price competitiveness and profits.
[Photos sourced from The Drum.]
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