As is often the way at this time of year, we are forced to look back and reflect on the previous 12 months, as well as looking forward to the new year.
I don’t think I could be accused of doom-mongering when I say that 2017 has, in the main, been a difficult year for many in our sector. The UK high street remains a tough place to be and it is now more apparent than ever that only the strongest will survive.
Bricks-and-mortar retailing has continued to evolve, as an increasing number of stores strive to become lifestyle destinations. Customers have been shown to research and make purchase decisions online before visiting a store to immerse themselves in the retail experience, and it is this concept of experience that must now be at the forefront of every decision you make about your business. Even the big brands, which at one point in the not-too-distant past seemed invincible, are not immune to the effects of the changing face of retail and they too must adapt accordingly. Some retailers are choosing to become less brand reliant and I am sure there will be many following suit in 2018.
Like everything else in the industry, the format of trade shows is also shifting. Increasingly, brands and suppliers are choosing to visit retailers in their stores rather than exhibiting at shows, leading some to question their relevance in today’s market. I believe that a trade show is still a great place to network, discover new product and take inspiration but, just like retailers, those running the shows need to give people a reason to visit and must also address the experience element.
Despite a tough trading environment, 2017 has been full of many positives for our sector and it is in tough times that strong businesses are made, so I am looking forward with cautious optimism to 2018. As ever, it has been a privilege for myself and the team to continue to provide you with this valuable trade resource in the form of Retail Jeweller and, on behalf of all of us here, may I take this opportunity to wish you a successful, prosperous, but above all, very happy Christmas, and all the best for the year ahead.
See you in 2018!
Ruth Faulkner, editor