The February issue of ERT is out now!

You can view the digital issue of February ERT here.

Editor’s comment:

Welcome to the jam-packed February issue of ERT! There’s a lot crammed into this issue, including a report from CES last month, features on the voice control and floorcare markets, and profiles on two leading kitchen appliance specialists – one of them being Coopers Stores (below), which picked up an award at the ERT Awards in October.

We also recently reported on the story that the equivalent of 57,000 retail jobs have been lost in the last year – representing 16 consecutive quarters of year-on-year decline. Unfortunately, stories like this are increasingly common at the moment as sales figures, shop vacancies and consumer confidence data continues to make the headlines – mostly for all the wrong reasons.

The struggling high street and store closures were the subject of a recent Panorama programme on the BBC. The report’s findings detailed that the UK has lost over a quarter of shops on the high street in just over a decade, with business journalist Adam Shaw exclaiming that “Britain’s high streets are in crisis”. The government has promised investment for “left behind towns” but Mr Shaw questions how that money should be spent.

He visited three different towns across the UK and looked at the store closures there and what’s being done with these empty units. He noted that the sense of community appears to have been lost in places over the years, but the government plans to spend millions of pounds reviving run- down town centres and councils are attempting to revitalise their shared spaces with events, pop-up markets and community hubs.

High street retail is changing at a rapid pace and it’s not going to return to that fondly-remembered state in which it existed and thrived 10-15 years ago; instead, the high street is mirroring consumer trends more closely than ever and those business owners that take note and adapt accordingly will have the best chance of surviving.

It’s no longer an easy task (or a metaphorical walk in the park) to entice shoppers out from behind their phones, tablets and computers to actually spend in physical stores. The ways people engage with Britain’s town centres is dramatically changing and electrical retailers can get involved with their own community-engaging events.

We speak a lot about experiential retail in this industry, but I believe this is one of the best-suited industries for a hands-on, try-before-you-buy kind of shopping experience. Many electrical retailers already offer this, while others are slowly coming round to the idea.

If you haven’t seen it already, I certainly urge you to catch up on this Panorama episode – aptly named ‘How to Save the High Street’ – on BBC iPlayer. It’s incredibly interesting.

Also this month…

I interviewed Danny Lay, Managing Director of kitchens and appliances manufacturer, Caple (above), who told me that the company is busy preparing for the KBB Birmingham this year. Caple has a bigger and better stand with a whole host of brand new products on display.

“We always display new products. This year we’ve got 30 or 40 new products on the stand – it’s a great place for product research,” he said.

Jack Cheeseman – Editor –

You can view the digital issue of February ERT here.