Uncertainty isn’t good for sales

Retra chief executive Howard Saycell on whether Brexit will hit the electrical retailing sector the hardest…

We are in uncharted waters and this is reflected in the high levels of uncertainty around the economy, shares and the pound.

There is no doubt this uncertainty will continue for some time and we all know that uncertainty isn’t good for sales.

I don’t necessarily agree with all the doom-merchants, but the truth is, at this moment in time, nobody knows where this will all end.

I think it’s too soon to say that, specifically, the electrical industry will be hit hardest. Many electrical purchases are not discretionary. If a family washing machine or cooker breaks down, it becomes essential to get it either repaired or replaced.

Whether consumers will trade up to the latest HD TV if their TV needs replacing may be a bigger decision.

The Dixons Carphone results are just out and they have done rather well. Admittedly, these results report a period prior to Brexit, but their fundamentals look good.

Seb James is cautiously optimistic. He must be, as they are investing a very significant amount of money in a new store on Oxford Street.

The fall in the value of the pound will, I believe, lead inevitably to price increases and will be a challenge for many of the manufacturers. But if we are honest, some price increases may actually be a good thing for our industry. We have all agreed for many years that we sell wonderful technology at far too low a price. Perhaps this presents us with an opportunity?

In recent years, many Retra members have diversified their businesses and sold services in addition to products.

From designing and installing new kitchens to networking homes and moving into new areas such as SDA, many members have transformed their businesses.

What we can rely on in the independent sector is its commitment to offer unrivalled customer service, which will continue to be a big factor in the consumer’s decision process.

There is no doubt that the coming weeks and months will be challenging for the UK economy, as we as a nation come to terms with this “new world”.

If we end up in recession and the doomsayers are right, then I have every confidence Retra members will navigate their way through it. We’ve been there before and the businesses that come out the other side are invariably stronger for it.

Nobody is saying it will be easy or how long it will take, but if a business is fundamentally sound then it will come through it.

We at Retra will do everything we can to help our members continue to prosper by providing them with the best possible levels of support, advice and services, just as we have done since Retra was founded in 1942.

There will a bumpy ride, as the whole economy goes through this big transitionary period, but we will come through it.

The big question is how long will it take? Has anybody got a crystal ball?