Although by 2011, total current value sales of retailing reached stable growth, the economic downturn fundamentally changed some consumer patterns. In a quest to find the best value-for-money, consumers turned to internet retailing as well as hypermarkets during the downturn. As these two channels proved to be suitable for purchasing non-grocery products, some consumers did not return to do their shopping in specialised stores even when their economic situation improved.
Bricks to clicks - Finnish retailers finally wake up to online opportunities
Internet retailing became an organic part of Finnish retailing during the economic downturn. 2010 and 2011 were years when practically all major store-based retailers with the exception of some grocery only retailers, realised that if they failed to build a multi-channel strategy, the internet retailers would threaten their position. Internet retailing had become increasingly attractive to store-based retailers as consumers were confidently buying online. There was a mass movement away from traditional bricks-and-mortar-only competitors towards a multi-channel strategy. However, due to their slow response to changed conditions, the newly-launched bricks to clicks companies faced intense competition from pure online retailers in several areas.
Hypermarket growth strengthens sales of grocery retailers
Within store-based retailing, non-grocery retailing lost its value share during the economic downturn as consumers concentrated their shopping trips on hypermarkets which offer an extended selection of non-grocery goods as well as competitive prices. Non-grocery stores, holding in 2008 half of total store-based sales, witnessed a significant drop in 2009, and by the end of 2011 the share of non-grocery value had failed to improve. By way of contrast, hypermarkets was a channel which displayed a strong growth during the review period.
Liberalised opening hours change competitive landscape
The Finnish government’s decision to allow almost unlimited opening hours for outlets below 400 sq m at the end of 2009 significantly changed the competitive landscape in Finnish retailing. Small convenience stores and forecourt retailers with less than 100 sq m lost the competitive advantage they had previously held. The plight of small retailers resulted in decreasing numbers of the smallest outlets. To improve their situation, the smallest convenience stores tried to specialise in offering entertainment or convenience. However, by the end of 2011, they had not been able to improve sales satisfactorily. The companies which displayed the fastest growth in shares were the leaders S Group and Kesko Oyj.
Positive forecast expected with internet sales boosting the total
Finnish retailing is predicted to experience positive growth during the forecast period. This, however, will not be equal between the different categories. While the strong growth of hypermarkets will boost the total sales of grocery retailing, non-grocery retailing will not be as strong and is expected to further lose its share to hypermarkets as well as to non-store retailing. Internet retailing will see the best growth rates, and it is expected that those store-based retailers which are unable to build a strong multi-channel approach will lose share.
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