Turning Point Live! 2019 – part 1

This year’s ERT Turning Point Live! conference, sponsored by Electrical Safety First and hosted by ERT magazine Editor, Jack Cheeseman (pictured above with all the day’s speakers and panellists), was an invaluable source of information on how to meet the opportunities and challenges facing the electrical retail industry.

Experts in the areas of digital marketing, smart home technology and retailing across Europe shared their experiences and tips on how electrical retailers can explore new markets and differentiate themselves to help ensure a more prosperous future.

This is part one of our exclusive full review of the sessions from the day…

Let’s get down to numbers

Nick Simon, Client Insight Director, Consumer Electronics at GfK (pictured below), was first to the stage at ERT Turning Point Live! with an overview of market performance of consumer electronics, smart technology and home appliances.

But he began by looking at overall consumer data, stating that there is a popular view of “people thinking that they’re better off”. Figures show that average earnings are above the rate of inflation, he explained, and everybody is in work. The UK’s rate of unemployment is now the lowest that it’s been for 45 years, almost since records began.

“Spending hasn’t completely stalled,” he continued. “Online sales are very good for the total durables market at the moment right across the board.

“It’s very encouraging if you’re selling online, but it’s here where there is the pressure on price, which puts emphasis on Black Friday as that’s going to be a very important month. We are hoping that the actual price premium will still exist and it won’t be a ‘race to the bottom’.”

Mr Simon reported that the UK enjoyed “great success” on Black Friday in previous years, but recently he said online sales are propping up the industry, while actual in-store performance was “quite low”.

He highlighted that in 2014 only 33 per cent of sales were online, compared to last year where 61 per cent were online.

The nitty gritty

Speaking more in-depth about specific market sectors, Mr Simon said smart speakers are being adopted at a rapid rate, but there is “more reward to be had” in the smaller smart sectors, such as lighting, switches and security.

However, he added: “There’s a problem here that consumer electronics is suffering two double-digit declines in two of the last three months. The first half of last year was great because the World Cup fuelled a lot of sales; thereafter, it’s been tough, there’s been very little to actually stimulate consumers’ appetite.

“There’s one shining light in the whole consumer electronics sector – the headphones and headsets market, where we’ve got a 24 per cent increase in value what with true wireless and noise cancellation technologies coming through.”

On the home appliances side, Mr Simon reported that MDA is a very reliable market with “very encouraging numbers” over the last year. Market turnover stands at £2.5 billion, according to GfK data, “which is more than consumer electronics”, Mr Simon stated. He also said that SDA is doing very well – a market worth £2.8 billion, with kettles and toasters always popular products. Handstick vacuum cleaners have been in slight decline, but fans are up due to the unseasonably warm weather the UK had this summer.