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2018 was very much a game of two halves. It started off pretty slowly on the back of what was a very robust Christmas in 2017.
We were then hit by Beast from the East and this really impacted consumers in terms of being able to get out and about and actually get to the high street. No sooner did that finish then we entered into probably what was the strongest spring/summer in terms of weather that we’ve had in decades and this certainly had an impact in terms of clothing and fashion as well as big ticket spend such as furniture and electronics.
Brexit dominated the headlines in 2018 and the drag on currency as well as consumer confidence was evident.
In terms of 2019, I think it's gonna be a pretty much similar in terms of 2018. Hopefully we will have a better view of where we’re going in terms of Brexit and this will hopefully lead to an improved situation in terms of consumer confidence as well as consumer spend.
The retail sector however is changing at a rate of knots and we really do have to look at disruptors as well as the fast growing e-commerce businesses that are entering the arena and this is where we’re focusing our efforts this year.
There’s huge structural change going on in the retail sector right now particularly in the move to online shopping. Three, four years ago this stood in the mid-single digit area in terms of the amount of shopping that was done online. In some sectors this is now closer to 30, 40%.
Our existing customer base are also clearly going through some of this structural change and it's really important that we continue to support these businesses as they go through this transition, and that’s top of Barclays agenda in 2019.
Our Relationship Directors through their deep understanding of this sector, are uniquely placed to really help these businesses with this transition. This, coupled with our Barclaycard business where we can assist in terms of online payments and acceptance is really key.
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