By Daniel Hunter

Chris Gates, director of retail at Hitachi Consulting UK, believes that the rise in retail sales is largely down to the expansion of e-commerce.

Figures from the Office for National revealed that UK retail sales rose by 1.9% year-on-year in May.

The monthly change was a big upswing compared with April, when High Street sales fell 1.1%, adding to the belief that the economy is turning a corner and slowly return to sustainable growth.

“Today’s retail results show that sales are rebounding but largely due to the explosion of e-commerce," Gates said.

"As retailers experience variable performance on the high-street, it is becoming even more important for brands to keep pace with changing consumer habits and create a shopping experience that is centred around convenience and instant fulfilment. To continue riding out the downturn and flourish in the long-term, more needs to be done to reward shoppers for their loyalty and ensure a seamless consumer experience across different channels.

"Retailers need to take charge by conquering the digital channels and developing a unified multi-channel approach that fuses the online channels with a brand’s traditional bricks-and-mortar presence. For example, in the UK, Tesco has led the way in developing their integrated multi-channel operations, of which click & collect is a core part, targeting £5.5bn in online grocery revenue by 2017, half of the total market size IGD forecast for the UK.

"Similarly, John Lewis has invested heavily in its collect+ scheme and 40 per cent of online orders are now collected in either a John Lewis or Waitrose store - saving on both delivery charges and driving footfall in-store where the company has an additional opportunity to upsell.

"By embracing an omni-channel strategy and developing innovative new ways to target customers across all the interactive channels, it is possible to take retailing far beyond the traditional high-street and successfully engage customers, boost brand advocacy and increase sales.”

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