NEW YORK, July 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Senior executives in the retail industry see an improved business picture in 2010 and expect to see even better revenue, profitability and an improving jobs picture in 2011, according to a recent survey conducted by KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm.
Almost two-thirds of the retail industry executives in the KPMG survey said overall business conditions in retail were better now than a year ago, in marked contrast to KPMG's survey last summer when only one-fifth thought so. Looking forward to 2011, more than 90 percent of the executives expect better conditions, up 20 percentage points from last year's level of optimism.
More than nine in ten senior retail executives in the survey cited "product innovations" and "innovative merchandising strategies" (which includes online and mobile internet shopping) as their biggest revenue drivers over the next three years.
"Although overall optimism is on the rise in this sector, retailers are looking to rebound from what was a drastic economic downturn for them, so there is considerable room for improvement yet," said Mark Larson, KPMG global retail sector chair. "Retail executives know they must do more than cut costs – they need to capture more of their customers' spending in what will continue to be a low-growth environment. Online and mobile internet shopping represent examples of how retailers can accomplish that goal. They allow consumers to get what they want, when they want it and that is a significant key to growth in the industry."
The respondents were still cautious with regard to employment in their sector however – only 14 percent of respondents thought the employment picture was better now than a year ago. When it came to their specific hiring plans, 40 percent of respondents said they expect to add headcount – but most estimated the increases to be in the range of only one to three percent.
U.S. Economic Recovery Stretched to April 2012
Nearly half of the senior retail executives surveyed expect their sector to recover ahead of the U.S. economy as a whole. On average, the retail executives predict an overall U.S. economic recovery in 1.9 years, which projects to March 2012. When asked this same question in a KPMG survey last summer, retail executives predicted the economy would recover in an average of 1.8 years, or April 2011.
"While retail executives show more optimism in this year's survey, the fact they see the expected economic recovery timeline extended suggests they are still cautious about declaring the recession and its impact completely in their rearview mirror," added Larson. "Their caution is understandable given the lackluster June sales results just reported by many retailers and the fact they are coming out of what was a drastic downturn for them."
Factors and Challenges Hindering Recovery
Asked to identify the factors most likely to hinder economic recovery in their sector, retail leaders most frequently cited continuing high national unemployment (66 percent), decreased consumer confidence (63 percent) and a distressed real estate market (28 percent) as well as limited access to credit for consumers (also at 28 percent).
On a related topic, when asked to identify their biggest challenges, 25 percent said "recognizing/responding to customer trends" and 23 percent pointed to "discounts driven by market competition."
Other major KPMG survey findings include:
- The KPMG survey also asked retail executives to indicate if their strategic focus was now on investing for growth or cutting costs. Right in-line with last summer's results, more than half (55 percent) chose the investment option, but 45 percent said they were still focused on cost cutting.
- Thirty-seven percent of retail execs say their ability to get financing/raise capital has improved the past six months while 46 percent say it has stayed the same and 17 percent say it has gotten worse.
- Forty-six percent of retail execs see an increase in employee salaries and bonuses this year compared to last, with 42 percent saying the level of pay will stay the same and 12 percent stating a decrease.
- Interestingly, just under half of the executives believe "perceived value" is the determining factor on where customers will buy, followed by nearly one-quarter believing "price" is the most important factor, with "convenience of location" and "familiarity with the retailer" next in line--"Quality" and "Service" received limited responses from the execs.
- About half the respondents in the survey said they believe emerging markets would be a driver for revenue growth. Forty percent said they were already expanding into emerging market countries, with China the most frequently named market (26 percent) and Latin America second (23 percent).
The KPMG Industry Pulse Survey
The KPMG survey was conducted during April and May 2010 and reflects the responses of 65 CEOs and other C-level suite executives in the retail industry. Approximately 29 percent of respondents work for retail companies with annual revenues exceeding $1 billion; 26 percent represent companies with annual revenues in the $250 million-$1 billion range and 45 percent represent companies with annual revenue below $250 million. Clarion Research Inc. conducted the survey and compiled the data.
About KPMG LLP's Retail Industry Practice
KPMG LLP in the U.S. is a leading accounting, tax and advisory firm for the retail industry, where our in depth and long-term experience has helped clients become or remain market leaders in this sector. KPMG assists clients in increasing shareholder value by offering industry-specific advice that helps clients manage the challenges specific to the retail industry.
About KPMG LLP
KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (www.us.kpmg.com), is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"). KPMG International's member firms have 140,000 professionals, including more than 7,900 partners, in 146 countries.
The views and opinions expressed in the survey results are based on the responses of the survey participants and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG LLP.
Kevin Beagley/Ray Zardetto
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SOURCE KPMG LLP