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River Island to expand into the US

River Island is preparing to open its first US stores, after it has seen online sales in the market surge.

The retailer’s chief executive Will Kernan told The Mail on Sunday the brand is now seeing several times the amount of sales in the US post pandemic compared to pre-pandemic. He added that River Island has seen surging sales in locations like California, New York, Texas and Florida, and now sees the US as “a major growth opportunity”.

“Even though the brand is not well known in certain parts of the US, what’s interesting is that the product is resonating strongly,” Kernan told the paper.

The brand says it has a “long-term” plan to invest in the US and is looking to better understand the market before deciding how to invest in it.

River Island had seen sales decline during the pandemic, posting a loss of £36.2m in 2020, but managed to recoup this last year, posting an operating profit of £73.5m in 2021.

READ MORE: River Island looks to break America with ‘long term’ expansion plan

One third of consumers have traded down during cost of living crisis

One in three UK consumers are already buying more own brand or value products during the cost of living crisis, finds research from KPMG.

The survey of 3,000 UK consumers  carried out in early September finds essential household costs, such as food, energy, mortgage or rent, have risen by an average of £145.50 per month compared to when 2022 began. In reaction to these increased essential costs, just over a quarter (26%) say they are buying fewer non-essential items than in 2021.

As well as swapping to own brands, one in four say they are switching brands, with a similar proportion reporting they are now shopping at cheaper retailers. Eating out is the area where most consumers (59%) say they are cutting down. One in five of those surveyed also report swapping eating out for premium home cooked meals.

Clothing (54%) and takeaways (51%) are the next most common areas of spending reduction. Eating out, clothing and takeaways have consistently been the areas where most consumers report cutting down on, with polling in April and December 2021 bringing back similar results.

Perhaps surprisingly, a greater amount of the 3000 consumers say that they are feeling more secure (37%) than less secure (22%) in their financial circumstances than they were at the beginning of the year. This represented a reversal from a survey carried out by KPMG in April, when 34% feeling less secure versus 26% feeling more secure.

KPMG’s UK head of consumer markets, retail and leisure Linda Ellett says this increased security may be down to the actions consumers are taking on their own spending.

“It’s clear that consumers are responding where they can – altering how much they buy, what they buy and where they buy it.  Retailers are also responding and will need to continue to be data driven to anticipate and adapt to changes in demand,” she says.

Shelter rejects cost of living ‘hacks’ in new campaign

Shelter has launched a campaign offering an alternative to purported “hacks” for the cost of living crisis, calling on the government to take action to make housing more affordable.

The housing and homelessness charity features tongue-in-cheek money-saving hacks in its new campaign, such as reusing old teabags or cancelling a Netflix account. It contrasts these small-scale ideas that put the onus on the individual, with what the charity believes is the real solution – the government taking action on housing.

The campaign was devised internally after research from Shelter found almost 1.1 million private renters in England – one in seven – have had their rent increased in the last month. The charity has also experienced an influx of calls to its emergency helpline from people concerned about keeping a roof over their head due to surging rent and other bills.

“Every day we’re being bombarded in the news by cost of living hacks. But whatever the latest hack is, it’s just a sticking plaster that can’t possibly cure runaway rents that are pushing people into homelessness,” says Shelter’s director of communications, policy and campaigns Osama Bhutta.

“Our campaign shows how these cost of living hacks are negligible in the face of the scale of the housing emergency. By making our audience look twice, we hope to raise awareness of the reality for struggling renters and show that it’s time the government takes action to make housing genuinely affordable.”

The campaign launches today across social media, outdoor, contextual posts on sites like Reddit, and an editorial partnership with Vice. It will also see beer mats, designed to prompt conversation, being launched in pubs, as well as tailored creative outside the Conservative Party conference next month.

The campaign is supported by media planning from Yonder Media.

Morrisons owners ask staff to invest in their own company

MorrisonsMorrisons has reportedly asked its own staff, from supermarket managers upwards, to invest their own money in the business.

The Guardian reports that the supermarket’s private equity owners have asked its own staff to invest thousands of pounds in the business, with the newspaper’s source saying that while the contribution would be voluntary, some staff have reported feeling under pressure to invest.

The source says that middle management level departmental heads have been asked for £10,000 while the department directors had been asked for £25,000 each. The minimum money to invest is £2,000. It is understood that those who do invest will be eligible for a special bonus, equivalent to 60% of the amount they were asked to invest before tax.

“The opportunity to invest in the future of Morrisons was incredibly popular throughout the business with over 800 colleagues, or more than 90% of those eligible, choosing to invest,” says a spokesperson for the supermarket.

Morrisons was recently replaced as the fourth biggest UK supermarket by discounter Aldi, which overtook it in terms of market share. Sales for the supermarket in the three months to 4 September fell by 4.1%.

READ MORE: Morrisons staff asked to invest thousands in their own company

Harrods celebrates launch of beauty rewards scheme

Luxury department store Harrods has launched MyBeauty, a rewards scheme focused on beauty.

The initiative, which is an extension of the existing Harrods Rewards programme, will give members the ability to earn points on beauty purchases, early access to launches and invitations to events. Members must join Harrods Rewards, before they can get access to MyBeauty, but membership of both programmes is free.

To celebrate the launch of MyBeauty, members will receive £20 in Rewards points with their first £25 spend, plus double Rewards points on all beauty purchases up until the 6th November 2022.

The retailer is also laying on ‘The H beauty Carnival’ which will offer festivities including masterclasses, live DJs, a carnival-themed champagne bar takeover and beauty vending machines. The tickets are free for MyBeauty members but must be booked in advance.

“With the launch of MyBeauty, we aim to connect with our extensive beauty community and offer a shopping experience and benefits uniquely tailored to them,” says Harrods director of beauty, Annalise Fard.

“We have worked extensively to create a beauty loyalty proposition that will support the long-term engagement of our customers across all Harrods beauty channels, while complementing our existing Harrods Rewards programme.”

The programme will be accessible for beauty purchases instore and online.

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