Results from the recent British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) survey show that spending in 2014 was £4.3bn, up from £3.8bn when the last survey was done in 2011. This compares to £4.15bn in 2006 (news, 23 April).

And growing consumer confidence could spell good news for equestrian retailers.

Research by GfK, providers of consumer and retailer data, found that all five of the measures they use to calculate consumer confidence had increased in June.

Joe Staton, head of market dynamics at the company, said that this could translate into a “busy time for retailers”.

Simon Middleton, of equestrian kit distributor Zebra Products, told H&H the company is experiencing growth within some of the 10 premium brands it distributes. He added that the key increases are within the horse equipment sector.

These include Sprenger bits, stirrups and spurs, Veredus horse protection and therapy, and Amerigo and Equipe saddles.

“Interestingly, the rider-based products are consistently growing,” Mr Middleton told H&H.

“Brands generally are very sought after. The past era of lower-priced goods is coming to an end.

“Our retailers seem to be optimistic. We gauge this by our order book and payment patterns, all of which are very buoyant.”

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The GfK index recorded that since last summer, people’s personal financial situations have improved, as has the general economic situation, and that people are making more large purchases.

The UK consumer confidence index has also risen compared to the same time in 2014.

Mr Staton said: “We’re seeing a dramatic uptick in confidence this summer, a real post-election bounce that’s put a spring in the step of consumers across the UK.”

He added the jump of six points in the overall index score takes it back to levels not seen since the late 1990s or early 2000s.

“Across all key measures we’re reporting higher levels of financial optimism for both our own personal situation and for the general economy as a whole for the coming 12 months,” he said.

This renewed optimism should signal brighter days ahead.

“We are tentatively hopeful that the industry is starting to show growth in terms of expenditure figures,” said BETA’s Claire Williams.

Retailers spoken to by H&H this week were positive.

Sue Bryant from Freddie Parker Shirts and Homeware said the “overall mood for spending” has been much more positive this summer than last.

Han Van De Braak of Aloeride agreed, and said the company’s sales have had a “steady increase over the past six months”.

Jean Hammond from Golly Galoshes said the “general attitude” is “certainly improving, as our sales indicate”.

“June and July were good — up on the previous year, but August was quiet as is to be expected. Hopefully we will have a good September,” said Julia Andrews from Kate Negus Saddlery.

Andrea Miles from Mirrors for Training said the company had “definitely noticed a boost in sales this summer”.

And Michele Griffiths from Verdo Horse Bedding added she’d seen sales this summer “increase significantly” compared to around this time last year.

Mobile shopping on the rise

Online shopping is ever increasing in the equestrian industry, with many companies relying heavily on their online shop as well as their stores.

Scottish equestrian retailer Ayr Equestrian said online sales account for 60% of sales, with the remaining 40% made up of people coming into the shop or making purchases from the show unit.

Abigail Deboys from Ayr said: “Online shopping is a growing part of our business.”

Meanwhile a report warns that retailers must make websites more accessible for mobile phone shoppers to capitalise on the growing market for mobile spending.

According to the survey from VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research, UK retailers are collectively missing out on £6.6bn a year because of a lack of investment in their mobile offering.

The top three barriers for shoppers using mobiles are slow-loading pages, websites that freeze and too many products to sift through. Security and poor payment options were also of concern.

The research is based on a survey of 1,000 online retail customers in the UK that was carried out between March and April this year.

The study shows that 15% of consumers now use their mobile as their primary online shopping device.

Consumers with a propensity to shop on mobile were also found to be more prolific spenders overall, making 47% more transactions than shoppers who use their computer for purchases.

Estimates for mobile spending suggest that it is set to grow further, with 73% saying they would they would spend more on their mobile, and 62% more on their tablet this year. This compares to only 20% saying they would increase spending on a computer.

“The growth of online and mobile spending has already had a hugely positive impact on the retail sector,” said Claire Davenport, of VoucherCodes.co.uk.

“However, there is still a great opportunity to be grabbed — and it is worth billions for retailers. Customers have expressed their intention to spend more on mobile devices, so now is the time to revisit mobile strategy to capitalise on this.”

James Lewin at Derbyshire-based Hope Valley Saddlery said online business is “hugely important” and accounts for “more than 50% of sales”.

“We get more visits from mobiles than from any other devices so it’s important people can view all the products and use the website from a mobile,” he added.

Mr Lewin told H&H mobile purchases are growing year-on-year.

Social media could also receive a shopping boost, as Facebook last month rolled out its “buy now” button to sell or purchase via users’ news feeds.

Ref: H&H 3 September, 2015