Published annually at the start of each calendar year, the Australian Retail Outlook examines the future of the retail industry across all facets.
The ARO features opinion columns from industry experts about what the year ahead holds for the Australian retail sector, while also featuring interviews with leading Australian retail executives on how they fared in 2015, and their plans and goals for the new calendar year. The ARO also features the results and analysis from Inside Retail’s annual reader survey.
“Each year, the Australian Retail Outlook gives retailers insight into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the retail industry,” Inside Retail Managing Editor, Justin Grey, said.
“2015 marked a year of steady growth for the Australian retail industry, albeit it was nothing to write home about. Retailers told us that consumers were more willing to spend in 2015, but that they were also more demanding.
“Beyond the challenges of meeting customers’ rising expectations, this year in our reader survey, retailers told us that rental costs, the value of the AUD, the cost of labour and endemic discounting are expected to be key hurdles in 2016. However, a sizeable 59 per cent also told us that they expect trading conditions to improve this year.”
2016 Inside Retail Reader survey
The 2016 Australian Retail Outlook includes the results of the 2016 Inside Retail Reader survey, illustrated with insightful infographics and featuring analysis and commentary. Here’s a snapshot of some of the results from this year’s survey:
IN THE YEAR AHEAD, HOW DO YOU EXPECT TRADING CONDITIONS TO CHANGE?
Almost half (47 per cent) of Australian retailers expect trading conditions to “improve a little” in 2016, while another nearly 12 per cent say trading in 2016 will “improve a lot” over 2015 conditions. Respondents suggested that 2016 will be a better year for retail – provided the economy doesn’t lapse into recession, interest rates remain stable, and the property market remains robust. Five per cent suggested 2016 will be “a lot worse” than 2015.
WHAT WILL BE YOUR TOP PRIORITY AS A RETAIL BUSINESS IN 2016?
To combat the challenges that lie ahead in 2016, 51 per cent of retailers will focus squarely on their top line and increasing sales in the year ahead, while 38 per cent will look to increase margins. Recognising the increasing importance of online, 21 per cent of retailers will prioritise building their e-commerce presence in 2016. And in light of challenges in the market, just under 10 per cent say they’ll focus on reducing their number of stores this year.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING THE RETAIL INDUSTRY IN 2016?
While early optimism surrounds 2016, challenges, as always, await retailers. Rental overheads (50 per cent), the value of the Australian dollar (49 per cent), and high labour costs (47 per cent) are weighing heavy on retailers’ minds, with retailers naming these as the three biggest challenges that they will face in 2016. Other survey respondents note that endemic discounting (44 per cent), a drop in consumer confidence (39 per cent) and the rising number of offshore online retailers (38 per cent) will cause them to lose sleep in 2016.
HOW DO YOU EXPECT LEASING TERMS TO CHANGE IN 2016?
Moving into 2016, a small percentage (12 per cent) of retailers expect leasing terms to change for the better this year, while 21 per cent anticipate leasing terms getting more challenging and 37 per cent see no change occurring.
HOW WILL THE VALUE OF THE AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS IN 2016?
Most retailers believe fluctuations in the value of the Australian dollar will spell bad news for their business in 2016, with 58 per cent saying the impact will be negative. However, 27 per cent see no discernible impact to their business.
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The 2016 instalment of the ARO features interviews with CEOs and leading executives from Mimco, Oxfam Australia, Adore Beauty, Gloria Jeans, The Good Guys, the Large Format Retail Association, Mad Mex and The Co-Op. And this year, experts from Azurium, GFK, Savills, SDL, ACRS, Frontline Retail and Public Design Group provide their forecasts for retail in 2016.
This year, Inside Retail partnered with boutique management, consulting and real estate advisory firm, Azurium, to produce the ARO.