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January retail sales, retail media, UK recession: 5 interesting stats to start your week

Retail sales rebound in January

Retail sales volumes rebounded by 3.4% in January, after a tough December period, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In December, sales fell by a record 3.3%. Consumers were spending earlier, according to the ONS, but also planned to spend less during the cost of living crisis.

January’s rebound marks the sharpest monthly increase in sales since April 2021, when shoppers returned post-pandemic.

In January, each sub-sector (which includes food, household goods and department stores) saw monthly increases in volumes sales, apart from the clothing sector.

The amount spent online fell by 4.1% over the month to the end of January 2024. The proportion of retail spend made online also decreased from 26.8% in December 2023 to 24.8% in January 2024.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Advertisers say retail media is most effective sales channel

Almost four-fifths (79%) of advertisers say retail media is their most effective sales channel, according to research carried out by Criteo.

An overwhelming majority of agencies (93%), brands (88%) and retailers (89%) say retail media had a strong or positive impact on their bottom line in 2023.

Most brands and agencies also view retail media as an evolving channel in terms of its capabilities, with 85% agreeing that the ability of retail media to drive upper-funnel awareness is growing stronger.

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Over two in three (69%) publishers say they are prioritising retail media spend over the next 12 to 18 months.

Source: Criteo

UK economy enters technical recession

The UK economy tipped into recession last year, with gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking in the final three months of 2023.

GDP is estimated to have fallen by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2023, which runs from October to December. In the previous quarter, it fell by 0.1%. Two consecutive quarter of GDP decline meets the technical definition for a recession.

Despite the UK having entered into a technical recession by the end of the year, overall, GDP is estimated to have grown 0.1% in 2023.

The UK’s downward trend for GDP in the final quarter of 2023 was something of an anomaly among other G7 countries, with only Germany also seeing a decline in the last three months of the year (also by 0.3%). Canada, the US and Italy all saw GDP growth in the period (by 0.3%, 0.8% and 0.2% respectively).

France’s GDP was flat, while Japan is yet to report its figures.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Marketing’s gender pay gap narrows, but remains double the national average

On average, female marketers working full-time are paid 16% less than their male counterparts, according to the exclusive 2024 Marketing Week Career & Salary Survey.

This figure marks a very slight improvement on 2023 when the gender pay gap stood at 16.5%.

It is still far higher – more than double – the national average of 7.7% though, as recorded by the Office for National Statistics in April 2023.

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The ONS calculates the gender pay gap as the difference between the average hourly earnings (excluding overtime) of men and women as a proportion of men’s average hourly earnings. The figure is the measure across all jobs in the UK, rather than the difference in pay between men and women for doing the same job.

While still representing a significant void, Marketing Week’s analysis shows there has been an improvement in marketing’s gender pay gap over the past five years.

In 2020, the data revealed a whopping 28% difference. This dropped to 23% in 2021 and further still to 12.6% in 2022 before rising again to 16.5% last year.

Source: Marketing Week

Most shoppers seek out user-generated content before making a purchase decision

Around three-fifths (60%) of shoppers always seek out user-generated visual content, like photos or videos of products, before deciding whether to make a purchase.

This figure is up 10 points from 2021 levels and up 20 points from 2016 levels, suggesting that shoppers are increasingly reliant on the views of other consumers when making their purchase decisions.

The most common reason why shoppers seek out visual user-generated content are to see what a product looks like in real life (89%). Shoppers also want to use user-generated content to get a better sense of size or sizing (72%) and gain a clearer understanding of product quality and performance (70%).

Almost one quarter (23%) of consumers say they won’t purchase a product if there are no pictures or videos from other buyers. That figure rises among Gen Z consumers, with over one-third (36%) saying they would not buy a product without seeing user-generated photos or videos of it.

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Source: PowerReviews

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