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经济学人:超市 商海无涯巧行舟

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Supermarkets

超市
Learning to be different
商海无涯巧行舟
Some glimmers of hope for struggling supermarkets
对于深陷泥淖的超市而言,前途尚有利好的曙光。
RARELY have the Christmas results for Britain's supermarkets been awaited with such trepidation. Most of them, especially the market leader, Tesco, struggled in 2014. The hard-discount stores, Aldi and Lidl, continued to undercut them, gobbling up market share, while falling food prices ate into their profits. Would the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year's Day, generally the strongest sales period, bring some relief?
不列颠的零售业的业主们早已期待圣诞节的销售业绩,因为他们心怀恐惧。这种情形着实罕见。在2014年,大部分超市,特别是Tesco这个市场领头羊,过得很艰难。Aldi和Lidl这样的超低折扣商铺,不断挖它们的墙角,侵吞他们的市场份额。而下降的食物价格使得超市的利润率降低。接下来临近圣诞节和新年的几周通常是超市的最旺销售时期,它们能否喘一口气?
He's making a list, checking it twice
他正在制作购物单,检查了两次。

The answer, so far, is mixed. Waitrose, the most upmarket grocer, did well. It made £728m (1.1 billion) over the five weeks to January 3rd, excluding fuel—7% more than in the same spell a year ago. By contrast like-for-like sales at Sainsbury's fell by 1.7% in the 14 weeks to January 3rd among stores that had been open at least a year. Tesco, which reported on January 8th, recorded another drop in sales, though by only 0.3% compared with the previous year. It is to close 43 stores. Analysts estimate that Asda, the second-biggest chain after Tesco, saw its market share fall by 1% in the three months to December.

目前来看,答案并不那么简单。Waitrose这最大的高档零售商业绩不错。在过去的5周中(截止至1月3日),它的营业额为七亿两千八百万英镑(折合成美元11亿)。这其中不包括燃料—与去年相比同期增长7%强。与此相较,在营业一年以上的商店中,Sainsbury的营业额在过去的14周中(截止到1月3日),下跌1.7%。而它已经开业一年以上。Tesco的业绩报表见诸1月8日。相比前一年虽有所下跌,降幅只有0.3%。它预备关闭43家店铺。分析师估计,居Tesco之亚的Asda,在截止至12月份的三个月中,市场份额缩水1%。
Asda's boss, Andrew Clarke, has warned of more challenging times ahead. Yet the lesson from these results is clear. Grocers with a clearly defined position in the market will continue to prosper, but for those without one there is more pain to come. Thus Waitrose, for instance, has remained resolutely and distinctly posh. It has refused to chase the upstart discounters by slashing prices, as mid-market rivals have done.
Asda的老板Andrew Clarke,早已警惕这种更为挑战的时刻。没有白交的学费。在市场中具有清晰定位的零售商将继续繁荣下去,而那些仍旧没有明确定位的,仍将面临窘境。比如Waitrose,它仍旧旗帜鲜明地走土豪路线,拒绝通过大减价跟上高端折扣店的步伐。与此相较的是,跟它一批的中等市场的竞争对手却紧随那些高端店的步伐。
Natalie Berg of Planet Retail, a research outfit, argues that the key to survival in a ferociously competitive groceries market is to offer the customer a brand that is “clear, targeted and consistent.” Waitrose, at the top end of the market, does this well, as do Lidl and Aldi at the bottom. The rest are stranded in the middle, trying to be all things to all people. This week, for instance, Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco announced further price cuts. That might fend off the discounters for a bit. It will also muddy perceptions of who their target customers really are.
一家名为“行星零售”的调查组织的成员Natalie Berg认为,在竞争激烈的零售商市场中存活下来的关键,在于给顾客留下这么个品牌印象—“明晰,有定位,持久”。 Waitrose卡住了市场的顶端部分。而Lidl和Aldi则把持住了市场的草根部分。其余的卡在中间,想着变成百宝箱,面向所有消费群体。比如这个周,Asda,Sainsbury和Tesco宣布接着砍价。这或许能些许抵御零售商的攻势。它也同样能搅起一池浑水,搞不清谁是它们的目标消费人群。
But it is not all gloom for the supermarkets. A more clement economic environment should help all of them. Tumbling fuel prices and—a novelty, this—rising real wages will put more money in shoppers' pockets. The results also demonstrate that supermarkets are rewarded for a strong internet presence. Again, Waitrose has done well here: grocery sales through its online service grew by 26% over the Christmas period compared with a year ago. Its parent company, John Lewis, has had great success with a new click-and-collect service at its department stores, which allows customers to nominate a place to pick up their shopping. Most of the supermarkets are trying out new digital gizmos to make shopping easier. Waitrose is experimenting with a home-scanning device called Hiku. This will allow people to scan barcodes on Waitrose products at home to add them to their online shopping basket.
不过对于超市来说也不全是阴云密布坏事不断。更为缓和的经济环境应能帮助他们所有人。下跌的油价—这确实是新鲜事—和上涨的工资使得顾客们荷包鼓胀起来。这个结果也表明,网路的存在使得商家获益。这点还是Waitrose做得好:跟一年前相比,零售店销售额在圣诞节期间,依靠在线服务增长26%。它的母公司John Lewis,依托新近的点-收服务,在百货商铺中取得巨大成功。这个新系统允许顾客点名去哪里自提货物。
There are grounds for optimism even at Tesco, argues Bryan Roberts, an analyst at Kantar Retail. For a couple of years its stores in London have done better than those in the rest of the country. Store managers in the capital have enjoyed more autonomy to fill their shelves with products suited to the people who live or work in the local area. This process had become over-centralised, missing local trends; devolution seems to have helped reverse that. Simple, but effective.
坎塔尔零售的分析师Bryan Roberts则认为,就算是Tesco,也有乐观的理由。经过多年经营,Tesco在伦敦的店铺,其经营情况好于全国其他地区。首都店铺的经理享有更多的自主经营权,他们能为所在区域生活或工作的居民提供适合他们的货品。此前这个过程都是收回经理的自主权,这就忽略了当地发展趋势;让权能帮住扭转颓势。大道至简,直接有效。译者:唐宇·无心 校对:石海霞

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distinctly [di'stiŋktli]

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adv. 清楚地,显然地,明显地

 
survival [sə'vaivəl]

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n. 生存,幸存者

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announced [ə'naunst]

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宣布的

 
effective [i'fektiv]

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adj. 有效的,有影响的

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challenging ['tʃælindʒiŋ]

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adj. 大胆的(复杂的,有前途的,挑战的) n. 复杂

 
continuous [kən'tinjuəs]

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adj. 连续的,继续的,连绵不断的

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reverse [ri'və:s]

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n. 相反,背面,失败,倒档
adj. 反面的

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nominate ['nɔmineit]

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vt. 提名,指派,登记赛马参加比赛

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reform [ri'fɔ:m]

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v. 改革,改造,革新
n. 改革,改良

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optimism ['ɔptimizəm]

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n. 乐观,乐观主义

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