Developing your UK Retail Strategy - Bespoke Advantage

Developing your Retail Strategy

It goes without saying that retail has experienced a bumpy ride over the past few years. 2021 was an extremely challenging time for retailers in the UK with store closures an acceleration of what was happening in the marketplace pre Covid (PWC) with regards to large, cumbersome department stores, heritage brands with a declining customer base and high rates and rents. More than 17 000 chain store outlets closed in 2021, whilst this sounds phenomenal bear in mind that this figure includes fashion retailers, restaurants, bars, and gyms as well as banks and hairdressers – essentially service-related industries. Shopping centers which in the past drew in heavy footfall, have now fallen to being the worst performing in the past two years.

Retailers that we are all familiar with – from Debenhams to the Arcadia Group disappeared from the landscape. Following a very difficult time, 38.5% of UK retail sales still took place online in March 2021, whilst a decline of 63% a year earlier, this is still 9.2 percentage points ahead of the 29.3% recorded in 2019.

The New Customer Mindset for 2022

  • 56% of shoppers still like to visit a store before making a purchase online (Retail Dive)
  • 73% of retail eCommerce sales were made on mobile (Statista 2021) 
  • 6% of customers use social media as part of their shopping strategy (Forbes Survey 2021) 
  • 7% of luxury consumers still need to touch and feel products (Deloitte)


If you are exploring the UK marketplace for the first time, it is still a very attractive, whilst competitive marketplace to launch within. The UK beauty marketplace is made up of online and bricks and mortar speciality health and beauty retailers, pharmacies, department stores, supermarkets, and value retailers. UK consumers spend on average £487 per head on health and beauty product in 2022 (Global Data), over the next five-years they will be investing even more leading to an additional £73 per head. This makes this one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK.  9 out of 10 health and beauty shoppers still purchase products in store, but the spend is shifting online with online sales said to reach £3.1 billion by 2022.

Retailers have increased their online offering significantly since the pandemic, and this looks set to continue, with several of them having introduced new categories such as wellness. ASOS have partnered with brands including Lush, Marks & Spencer have invested in bringing on board more established beauty brands like Clinique and Benefit, and we have also seen retailers investing in training their staff about health and wellness like Holland & Barrett. There is a heightened interest in supporting black-owned beauty brands. Sustainability is a focal point with many questioning the sustainable credentials of a brand. Retailers like Sainsbury’s have introduced online marketplaces, like Debenhams to support the growth of indie beauty brands.

We are currently working with a number of companies on their go-to-market strategies. If you are interested in exploring whether the UK should form part of your retail strategy, and you are looking for support with securing your store locations, get in touch today to find out how we can support you.