The retail sector, like many during this cost-of-living crisis, has been severely impacted. Christmas retail sales actually held up better than many expected, thanks in part to the World Cup, but analysts are predicting a tricky few months ahead as people look to save the pennies after the festive period.
But how are the media covering the current challenges that the retail sector is facing? From the on-going economic issues to fast fashion and sustainability, journalists are always looking for new angles to cover the important topics within retail. We had a look back over the last few months on the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service to see what has been trending and what is coming up.
Since October, the Retail & Fashion category has represented 6% of all requests on the service. This makes it the seventh-best performing category, out of the 25 to choose from, and the second most popular among our users in terms of trade/professional options with only Business & Finance receiving more enquiries. It also saw a boost in the number of requests between September and October, rising by nearly 6%.
Despite being more of a trade category, the journalists selecting Retail & Fashion tend to come from Consumer Media, with 38% from that media type. National newspaper/Current Affairs is next on 22% with the Trade/Business/Professional media back on 9%. Nearly a half (48%) of the journalists submitting an enquiry are staff journos, with freelance journalists back on 18%.
In terms of what they are looking from with their requests, 35% are after review products with 23% looking for information for an article and 16% wanting a spokesperson or expert. The high number here for review products can be attributed to a large amount of Christmas requests in the period we are covering (October to December) and bloggers and consumer journalists often look to cover fashion trends for the festive period and look ahead to the new year.
When we look at the keywords and phrases that have been used within the Retail & Fashion category, ‘cost-of-living’ appears in nearly 3% of all these requests. A number of enquiries come from broadcast media with news providers such as ITV News and 5 News looking for filming locations and retail businesses on how they are coping with the cost-of-living crisis. This provides a great opportunity to get clients featured on national news and highlight how the economic downturn is affecting the retail sector.
National newspapers have also been looking along a similar line, wanting to find case studies about the impact on small businesses with requests coming from the Metro, The Daily Express and The Times. Plus, enquiries from trade titles such as The Grocer, including ‘Christmas in a cost of living crisis – impact on grocery/food and drink shopping’.
The cost-of-living crisis is a very immediate trend and concern for the retail sector but one that has been affecting this area in the longer term has been the rise in online retail and retailers. ‘Online’ was our top keyword in the last three months, featuring in 12% of all requests in the Retail & Fashion category.
This figure might be skewed slightly, as many come from online publications. However, we have seen requests from trade and national press titles around this. A journalist at Industry Dive was looking to ‘profile two businesses about online payments’ offering a good opportunity for any case studies. While the Daily Mirror looked for the ‘best boxing day sale offers – online, high street retailers and supermarkets’. This is, of course, more of a seasonal request but does contain another two keywords in ‘sale’ and ‘high street’. The former made up nearly 3% of the Retail & Fashion requests while the latter was in just over 1%. Again, ‘sale’ might appear due to the timing we are looking at with Christmas and then the January sales.
Another couple of time sensitive key phrases were ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ which combined appeared in nearly 2% of the total requests. These were mainly looking for products to review and information on the best deals out there. Journalists will often look in advance for this, especially if it is going to be a feature in their publication, so requests can be from September and into October.
Despite the economic downturn, ‘luxury’ was the second most used keyword on the service as it appeared in over 6% of all requests. The majority of these were looking for products to review or to include as competition prizes but that still presents a good chance to promote a client’s brand. There were also a few looking for spokespeople on the luxury retail industry including this one about the ‘present and future of luxury industry’.
Finally, another more recent trend from the retail sector has been sustainability. This applies both to the fashion industry, moving away from the era of fast fashion, and supermarkets and the food industry, trying to reduce single use plastic and encourage recycling. ‘Sustainable’ as a keyword has been in 2% of all requests from October to December.
Requests around this keyword have focused on spokespeople or experts in this field from a variety of consumer, trade and national titles. This has included Natural Health, The Times, PA Media and The Grocer. Several have asked specifically for a sustainability expert and with environmental issues often at the top of the news agenda, there are bound to be more requests of this nature. Therefore, a great opportunity to get coverage in the media.
Topical issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, the rise of online shopping and the focus on less waste and more sustainability within retail look set to continue. While other requests around the retail sector can be seasonal, as seen with Christmas and Black Friday. Notable events such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are approaching and journalists will be keen to get information and case studies around the impact on retail.