In this month’s issue of ERT…

By Jack Cheeseman, Editor, ERT

So, here we are. The month when the UK is due to be leaving the European Union. However, at the moment, it seems it’s anybody’s guess as to what is actually going to happen next.

Brexit deals have been rejected and there have been resignations across Parliament, but the plan of action, it seems (at the time I write this before going to print), is that there’s more voting on the horizon and even a possible Brexit delay if things don’t go to plan.

If this happens, an extension to Article 50 would be requested from the EU, and, assuming the other EU member states all agreed, Brexit would be postponed. But the Prime Minister says this should be for no longer than three months.

But without getting too political and ending up down a rabbit hole asking ourselves ‘what’s really going on?’ and ‘what will actually happen next?’, it’s important to highlight that this uncertainty is definitely causing concern amongst retailers across the country.

Businesses in the consumer technology sector appear to have not yet taken active steps to prepare for a no-deal Brexit – the chances of which remain significant, as Paul Hide writes in this month’s issue of ERT. techUK released results of its poll, which was conducted in December ahead of the planned Parliamentary vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, showing that 70 per cent of its members believe that a no-deal Brexit this month would have a negative impact on their business.

In addition, many firms admitted they haven’t prepared for no-deal because they simply don’t know how to prepare. This is vital feedback, and sadly no one has a definitive answer or solution for this. At this point, I could refer to a rather tongue-in-cheek phrase such as ‘keep calm and carry on’, but I don’t imagine that would provide much solace.

As a way to divert your attention towards the rest of this issue, we’ve got a special Local Marketing feature where experts are sharing their views on the little things that retailers can do to make the most of the marketing tools around them. Being a strong part of your local community is one of the key messages – to help raise brand awareness and to give people a reason to connect with you. Jemma Parsons, from AV retailer, Avensys, says that if you can connect consumers as a brand, as well as build loyalty and trust, then it will have a direct impact on sales.

It’s said quite often, but experiential retail is also essential. “Bring the fun”, as Smeg’s John Davies says. Give people a reason to put down their phones or laptops and come in store. There are many different types of events that you could hold – whether it’s cooking demonstrations or hosting new product launches. There’s plenty of advice on offer from page 39 this month.

You can view this month’s digital issue of ERT here.