Retail news from around the globe

Online wins big on Black Friday

In the US, despite overwhelming crowds and much hype, it seems fewer shoppers were actually out snapping up bargains over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, the National Retail Association says, possibly because the deals had already started earlier in the week.

About 165 million US shoppers made purchases over the period, compared with 174 million last year, the retail trade body said.

However, online shopping is a different story. Thanksgiving Day brought in US$3.7 billion ($5.06 billion) in online sales, a growth of 28 per cent  year over year, Forbes reports. Adobe had predicted a 16.5 per cent  increase.

Black Friday brought in US$6.2 billion ($8.47 billion) in online sales, a growth of 23.6 per cent YoY.

Alibaba reaches out to Spain

China’s Alibaba Group has made another foray into Europe, signing a deal with Spain’s El Corte Inglés, the biggest department store in Europe by sales.

The companies will explore collaborations in logistics, such as leveraging El Corte Inglés’ shipping capabilities and distribution centres in Spain to support the local fulfilment services of AliExpress, Alibaba’s global B2C marketplace.

The Madrid-based department store is also considering introducing new sales channels into China for made-in-Spain goods by opening flagship stores on Tmall, Alibaba’s China-focused marketplace.

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Uniqlo storms into fashion capital

Japanese casual-wear designer Uniqlo is to open in Italy next year, choosing a heritage building in the historical heart of Milan for a brand-defining flagship store.

The new store will offer its LifeWear designs for men, women, and kids over three levels.

“Milan is one of the world’s most important and well-respected fashion capitals, enjoying a longstanding culture of craftsmanship as well as sophisticated and elegant design,” Tadashi Yanai, Uniqlo founder and chairman, and president and CEO of parent company Fast Retailing said.

Chinese tourists cool on Tiffany

Tiffany has reported quarterly sales that missed estimates as Chinese tourists spent less than expected at the jeweller’s stores in the US and Hong Kong, a shortfall that sent its shares tumbling.

Shares on Friday, two days after the announcement, were still trading below US$90 ($123), a fall from over US$106 ($145) on Tuesday, November 27.

The New York-based company’s net income fell to US$94.9 million ($128.5 million) in its fiscal third quarter, ended October 31, from US$100.2 million ($136.7 million) a year earlier.

Chief executive Alessandro Bogliolo tried to reassure investors that while spending outside of China was down, sales in the country were robust, possibly due to Tiffany lowering prices there after the Chinese government cut tariffs on luxury goods.

Ikea profit plummets after changes

Ikea Group, the Swedish furniture retailer that made its name on vast self-service out-of-town warehouse stores, has found that its major reset has not yet begun to pay dividends.

Full-year profits at the world’s biggest furniture retailer plunged 26 per cent for the 2018 financial year, as it invested some €2.8 billion ($4.32 billion) in improving its online offering, delivery services and in opening new smaller city-centre stores.

“There is a fast-moving retail landscape across the globe, and that’s why we are now taking these big investments,” chief financial officer Juvencio Maeztu told Reuters. He said online sales had jumped by 50 per cent.

Starbucks, Domino’s hit the wall

South Africa’s Taste Holdings has halted the rollout of new Domino’s Pizza and Starbucks stores. The management group, which owns and licenses a portfolio of franchised and owned stores, controls 48 Domino’s stores and 12 Starbucks outlets.

It said neither brand had performed well enough to justify further expansion.

The South African economy is in recession, with higher fuel prices, and an increase in value-added tax and income taxes squeezing consumers.

Retail numbers a mixed bag

The global retail sector is showing mixed results, with some countries posting phenomenal numbers and others drifting, according to the latest performance numbers.

In Japan, retail sales posted a 3.5 per cent annual gain in October from a year earlier as consumers spent more on fuel, cars, medicines and cosmetics. The numbers are seen as a sign that the economy is back on track for growth as private consumption makes up  some 60 per cent of the Japanese economy.

Irish retail sales were in line for another strong year after posting annual growth of 5.8 per cent in October. Excluding volatile car sales, “core” retail sales volumes fell by 1.1 per cent compared with the previous month to stand 4.2 per cent higher on the year.

But in Sweden, retail sales fell 1.1 per cent in October from September and dipped 0.1 per cent from a year earlier, the statistics office reports. This compared with expectations for a monthly increase of 0.2 per cent.

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