The UK consumer sector was dealt a fresh blow last week, when flatpack furniture giant Ikea announced it would close one of its 22 stores due to dwindling visitor numbers and "consistent" loss-making.
This is not the only bad news to have come from the retail space this year; less than two weeks ago, UK department store chain Beales fell into administration after failing to secure a last-minute buyer, while John Lewis warned its staff that bonuses may be at risk following a lacklustre festive period.
The firm, which has 50 stores across the UK, has also been warned by property firm Colliers International that its business rates bill will likely soar to £59m in 2021.
With footfall on UK high streets, in retail parks and in shopping centres having fallen by 10% over the last seven years according to the British Retail Consortium, and with vast sums of rent and tax to pay, can the UK consumer sector ever present itself as the perfect contrarian investment opportunity, or is it an inherent value trap?
It seems the sector is not as unpopular as end investors may think.
According to data from FE fundinfo, 37 UK equity funds in the Investment Association universe are overweight the consumer sector relative to the FTSE 100 index (which has an approximate 16% weighting).
The list includes household names such as LF Lindsell Train UK Equity, Evenlode Income, Threadneedle UK and Rathbone Income.
These 37 funds run a total of £28.4bn for investors and, when looking under their bonnets, it appears they are not just playing the consumer sector through online retail superstars such as AIM stocks Boohoo.com or ASOS, but through top-ten holdings in the likes of Tesco, Morrisons, WH Smith and clothing store Superdry.
Can the UK retail sector be revived amid shrinking high streets and the convenience of online shopping?
Fred Mahon, who co-manages the Church House UK Equity Growth fund, said he is "altogether more optimistic on the outlook for UK retailers, if you look in the right place", and considers the likes of JD Sports a "shining example" of a business that has continued to grow in a tough environment.
In a recent Investment Week article, manager of Investec UK Special Situations Alastair Mundy said there are "some compelling opportunities" in retail.
"There are challenges such as the rise of online shopping. But the valuations of many quoted retailers would suggest that it is the end of the UK high street - and we think this has created buying opportunities in stocks such as Next and M&S," he reasoned.
Elsewhere, however, other managers are seeking opportunities in the products themselves rather than the retailers.
Beverage company Diageo is a firm favourite among many UK equity managers, as is multi-sector consumer goods company Unilever.
And who knows, the out-of-favour sectors could continue to tick along nicely while many of today's 'sectors de jour' could burn out quicker than expected - a pattern investors have certainly witnessed in the not-too-distant past.