Westfield Shopping CentreWestfield shopping centre, Stratford, London - 30 Jun 2012

Improved product curations as well as “design-led” sportswear and activewear offerings were some notable observations of the London retail scene by analysts from Jane Hali & Associates LLC in the firm’s most recent research report.

Jane Hali, principal at the company, and Jessica Ramirez, retail research analyst, noted that on the product front, “we believe the retailers in London have accelerated their strategies to appeal to consumers and offer unique experiences and product. Many U.S. brands, like Calvin Klein and North Face, are much stronger in this market than they are in the U.S.”

Hali and her team shopped and studied the recently opened Arket and Weekend brands from H&M, and said in the report that although there’s a “lag in newness” with H&M, “we found that their brands such as Monki, and COS are strongly resonating with European consumers.” Hali said she considers Monki in particular to be “a competitor for Urban Outfitters and Topshop.” With sportswear and activewear, the analysts said the brands seen are “more design-led than what we find in the U.S.”

“As consumers are spending more in this category, we believe it is the key brands that offer the fashion,” the analysts said in the report. “Department stores are also offering curated areas that focus on activewear and designer collaborations that are more high-end.”

In regard to efforts to offer more enhanced shopping experiences for consumers, Hali and her team said many retailers observed “married their product offering with services, including beauty bars and cafés. Other retailers offered exclusive product, such as North Face that featured a collaboration with Comme des Garçons. We also noticed personalization services.”

Hali said brands such as Sweaty Betty and Lululemon “are focusing on full lifestyle experiences with wellness cafés and in-store fitness classes.” The analysts did note that these strategies are also deployed in U.S. stores, but the “experiences in London are much more available and more advanced.”

The researchers said retailers across the U.K. are adept at making sure “consumers online know they can collect their orders in-store. In some cases, retailers such as Zara and H&M have designated areas where consumers can collect their packages.” Hali noted that the emphasis on “click-to-collect is a key focus at retailers now in the U.S., even though the U.K. retailers have offered these services for many years.”

Regarding social media and influencers, Hali said it remains a key strategy for brands and retailers. “Brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Nike and Calvin ensure their influencers are well represented across social media,” Hali said. “Other stores are incorporating social media sharing through photo booths like Urban Outfitters, Lululemon and Bershka, which help brands use consumers as advocates for the brand.”

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