What we think

This is where you can peer into our minds and learn a bit more about us as recruiters, consultants and humans. Expect plenty of insight into Consumer, Retail, Recruitment, and life in our Leeds and London spaces. Some tips from the top and the odd guest appearance. Enjoy and please feel free to leave us a comment!

Footfall to click rates: 20 years of change in Consumer Goods

5th January 2022

2022 marks the 20th anniversary of Seven. Anniversaries and birthdays are a great time to reflect on past and present, and we’ve been thinking about our sectors of Consumer Goods and Retail; what’s changed and what hasn’t. Picturing retail 20 years ago conjures images of humming streets, queues and the pinging of tills. These days those features are still there, but many shopping experiences are also comprised of keyboard clicks and the noise of the kitchen coffee machine. If you wanted to, you could conduct most of your shopping in silence lying in bed! Let’s have a look at what else has changed in our world since the year the Euro became official currency, Britney & Justin dominated the charts and Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her golden jubilee.


In 2002 the big grocers had expanded in size and moved out of town to retail parks, leaving high streets and city centres focused on fashion and department stores. Coffee shops had grown in popularity throughout the nineties, Starbucks having launched their first shop in 1988 on the King’s Rd, London. Costa and Coffee Republic were already growing their estate and as pointed out in this article, coffee was earmarked as key growth area in Consumer Goods (hasn’t it delivered!). Twenty years later a coffee shop is a high street destination in itself with several in every city and town whether it’s Costa, Nero, Starbucks or the independents. In terms of brands the family favourites don’t change; Cadbury’s, Kellogg’s, Heinz and Coca Cola have remained in the top ten favourite brands since 2002. These brands have such strong customer loyalty they will remain household staples for decades to come. A glance back through our clients from 2002 reveals some forgotten names; The Gadget Shop, Virgin Megastores, Somerfield to name just a few alongside Blackberry, Borders Books and Blockbuster. The extinction of the three B’s can be explained by three big brands; Apple, Amazon and Netflix. Amazon is now the world’s most valuable global brand, Apple sits at number 2 and Netflix comes in at number 24.


Department stores were a feature of every city centre in 2002, but unfortunately it’s not so this year. The demise of Arcadia Group has seen the end or sale of favourites Topshop, Burtons, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Debenhams. In the early 2000’s Arcadia had more than 2,500 outlets in the UK but diminishing sales over the last 10 years gradually left the retail group with a £300 million deficit and its stores were closed or sold by 2021. The embers left from the Arcadia fire were reignited by Asos and Boohoo, buying Arcadia brands to sell online and sealing the fate of any remaining bricks and mortar outlets. Changing shopper habits fuelled by the move to online shopping has driven this change, with many of the surviving department stores reduced in size due to reduced customer footfall in city centres and fewer shoppers utilising the ‘all under one roof’ format.


Technology – especially a smartphone in every pocket – has literally opened up a whole new world of shopping and made speed the biggest development in the customer journey compared to twenty years ago. Clothing, shoes and accessories are the most popular category of physical goods to shop online, with 55% of individuals in British households purchasing goods and items in this category in 2020. Eight years ago, this figure was at 13% and before that significant sales figures for online fashion are hard to find, which helps explain the demise of the high street giants. Now ASOS dominates online fashion globally, although we can’t ignore the elephant in the Zoom waiting room. The ruler of their very own jungle, Amazon has used technology to deliver on speed, convenience and choice to dominate the online retail space. Its minimum effort shopping model has us all hooked and they are by far the world’s biggest brand with presence in every category, including a fictional lady named Alexa who can remind us when we need to buy more. Interestingly their move to bricks and mortar in 2021 raises the speed and convenience game across the retail landscape with Amazon Go promising no lines and no checkout – unthinkable in 2002. Maybe we are soon to see the end of long queues forever as the technology is inevitably being adapted across the retail landscape.


In terms of recruitment, a look back at our registered vacancies in 2002 reveals that although a lot of brands and businesses have disappeared, the roles recruited across Consumer Goods & Retail have remained consistently within Sales & Marketing, Operations, Logistics, Buying & Procurement, Technical & NPD. Of course within Marketing we’ve seen deviation into digital but generally across the board, the people that design, produce and sell our top products and brands are doing largely the same jobs. The biggest change is how we buy the things we need, rather than what we actually buy.


We’ll be digging further into the changes the last 20 years have seen in Consumer Goods over the next few months so keep an eye out for those insights!

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