November 10, 2010: Industry strategist, First Retail works with imaging retailers throughout Australasia, the UK and most recently in the US. Managing director, Chris Wilkinson reports on results from the group’s annual client questionnaire:
This year the survey took in a random selection of 50 stores from First Retail’s global client base, spread across three continents. Owners and managers were polled on general business trends along with individual performance and expectations for the future.
The past 12 months has seen a general stabilisation of the photo market, according to retailer input, with the majority of stores reporting static to single digit growth. Any increases have predominantly come from the introduction of new categories such as gifting or decor.
All respondents indicated significant growth in online orders, with high expectations for the lead-up to Christmas. Average value has increased to A$28.50 from A$$23.00 in 2009, reflecting a greater tendency toward mixed orders of photo gifts, enlargements and prints.
The evolution of photo gifting from outsourcing to an in-store solution has gathered momentum over the past 12 months. All stores had increased their range, promotion and focus to capitalise on increased consumer awareness of these products.
Key products this Christmas are tipped to be canvas, collages and photogifts. Frames and enlargements are also projected to continue as a seasonal favourite with consumers. Retailers universally picked online gift vouchers as the most exciting new development for the sector.
Investment projections are still subdued, with only 35 percent of respondents considering new equipment, store re-fits or other capital expenditure in 2011.
Outlook for stores in Australasia and the US is positive, with a general consensus these economies have come through the worst. In contrast, UK retailers are bracing for a challenging Christmas, with recently announced austerity measures from the UK government impacting consumer confidence.