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Mintel’s Month in Retail highlights the stories that have made headlines in the European retail markets over the past four weeks, with exclusive analysis from Mintel’s expert retail team on potential implications.

UK: Tesco launches pet-friendly ‘Pawsecco’

Tesco is introducing Christmas-themed drinks and treats for pets, suitable for both dogs and cats. With help from veterinarians, the retailer is releasing Bottom Sniffer Beer and Pawsecco – both non-alcoholic, non-carbonated drinks designed for pets, retailing at £3 each. Panettone for cats, an advent calendar for dogs and Christmas crackers will also be released. This increase in pet products is in response to growing consumer demand, according to the retailer, with purchases of dedicated festive pet gifts soaring by 300% over the last two Christmases.

“Tesco is tapping into a growing interest among pet owners in buying treats and toys for their pets. Mintel research on Britain’s pet owners finds that two thirds of UK pet owners like to include their pets in seasonal celebrations (e.g with Christmas treats/toys), as part of a general trend towards the humanisation of pets.”

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UK: Asos introduces try before you buy

Online retailer Asos is introducing a try before you buy service. In partnership with technology and payment firm Klarna, the service will allow Asos customers to pay for the items they receive and send other items back within 30 days of the dispatch date. Asos has been focusing on its delivery offering recently, having launched Asos Instant, a same-day delivery service currently being trialled in London. The company’s recent annual report showed a 33% increase in revenue and a 145% increase in pre-tax profit.

“ASOS continues to improve the shopping experience for its young, fashion-conscious customer. Mintel’s consumer research reveals that one in five young clothing consumers now buy fashion items from ASOS, confirming the retailer’s dominance in the sector. As more than a third of clothing shoppers in the UK would like the option to order clothes online but only pay once they decide to keep them, rising to half of young women aged 16-24, launching this service is well considered.”

Germany: Zalando adds Adidas shoe personalisation tool

Online German retailer Zalando has released a shoe personalisation option for consumers buying Adidas shoes. The tool, called Miadidas, allows for customers to select a choice of colour and material for the shoe. Short messages, either letters or numbers, can also be added.

“The demand for personalisation is growing in many industries and we can see this trend in the footwear sector too – such innovations give brands and retailers the opportunity to engage and interact on a personal level with their customers. Mintel Footwear retailing research shows that around half of German men aged 16-24 and 61% of women of the same age are interested in customising their shoes.”

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UK: Amazon introduces Amazon Prime Villages

Amazon is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Amazon Prime by introducing Amazon Prime Villages, which offer free Amazon Prime to residents in 20 UK villages with the most frequent Amazon customers over the past decade. Amazon also revealed the top-selling products via Amazon Prime, which include Frozen (DVD), Amazon Echo, Fire Tablet and Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15 book.

“Mintel’s latest online retailing research highlights that 43% of UK consumers have had some experience with Amazon Prime. This is a significant level of use and awareness for a scheme only just celebrating its 10th birthday in the UK. It is truly a scheme that encourages higher purchasing across all categories; indeed, we found that across almost every category Amazon Prime members were at least twice as likely to have made a purchase in the past year than those without Prime.”

Spain: Douglas becomes largest beauty retailer in Spanish market

German perfume and cosmetics retailer Douglas has become the largest beauty and cosmetics retailer in Spain after acquiring 102 Perfumerias If stores. After acquiring the Bodybell Group in July 2017, Douglas now has 382 stores across the Spanish market and operates 2,400 stores in 19 European countries.

“Mintel research on Spain’s beauty retailing sector highlights the fragmentation of the Spanish beauty market. By buying Bodybell and If, Douglas has snapped up two of the main businesses and the three together are now easily larger than Clarel, Dia’s drugstore chain. But Clarel has a far wider range and a more downmarket target market than If Perfumerias. There is still room for a rival chain to develop, though it is hard to see who might lead it.”

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UK: River Island unveils first unisex kidswear collection

Clothing retailer River Island recently launched its 12-piece unisex childrenswear collection, just after launching a gender-neutral collaboration. The collection is primarily grey, black and white, will be priced between £12 and £28 and is sized for children aged between five and 12 years.

“River Island is now the latest retailer to offer unisex childrenswear after John Lewis announced its range in September 2017. According to Mintel’s childrenswear research, 20% of British consumers would like to see more gender-neutral clothing options for children. Consumers are becoming more wary of gender-based stereotypes, especially as the issues around it become heavily publicised via social media and TV programmes such as BBC documentary ‘No More Boys and Girls’.”