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Retail in general: 2016 is off to a bad start


The new year did not start well for Retail. Reasons for this bad start are multiple: Asian stock markets crashing early January, consumer confidence declining month after month, the horrible terror attacks leading to a lockdown in Brussels and a shutdown of our national airport, and our government announcing new measures will be necessary to get the budget under control. This all led to a decline in sales value of -2.5% in the first quarter, compared to the same period last year. The comparison is based on the sum of all non-food markets measured by GfK POS Measurement. 

Most of the markets we measure declined during the first quarter of 2016. Worst off is IT and Office Equipment (-7.7%). Secondly, the Consumer Electronics market also keeps shrinking (-3.9%), although we are optimistic with the upcoming European Championships. Let’s see if this event will have a positive impact on television sales in the second quarter.  

Furthermore, even the Telecom business suffered during the first quarter due to a decrease in smartphones sales (-1.6%). At the same time, we noticed Core Wearables (Health & Fitness Trackers, Smartwatches and Wrist Sport Computers) growing strongly, but their market share within Telecom remains limited. Also the Books market suffered a strong decline (-3.3%). The only winning book genre is comic books.   

Finally, after years of steady growth even the Small Domestic Appliances market noted a small decrease during this first quarter (-0.7%). Nonetheless, the most important product group for SDA, vacuum cleaners, is still growing thanks to the popular handstick models. 

Nevertheless, there is also some positive news to share. After a record breaking year, the Major Domestic Appliances market continues to grow and ended the first quarter again with positive numbers (+1.0%). This market keeps on benefitting from higher sales within Tumble Dryers and also Hobbs and Hoods are on the rise again.  

Surprisingly, Media & Entertainment managed to grow for the second quarter in a row (+0.6%), and the Home Improvement market also remains stable (+0.1%); nothing won or lost yet in this market. 

But let’s not be too pessimistic: we still have three quarters to go to recuperate our losses. The European Football Championship can certainly give a boost to commerce, so let’s cross our fingers for some big wins, both for our Red Devils and Belgian Retailers! We wonder how the non-food markets will evolve during the next quarter of 2016!

Wim Boesmans – Head of POS Measurement


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Wim Boesmans
Wim Boesmans