Using new technology is key to capturing consumers in the post-recession era, Marks and Spencer (M&S) chairman Sir Stuart Rose said at the World Retail Congress in Berlin this week.

Together with a panel of other retail experts, Rose said that online tools could help retailers counter spending downturns in the coming year.

Rose said: “You have to treat online as your friend, and ignore it at your peril.”

Phillip Schindler, vice president of Northern & Central Europe at Google, described the internet as a “revolution” and said with 1.9bn people online; retailers need to harness the opportunities.

He said the amount of data online has exploded, and most consumers now access that data via searches. He said 30% of US adults have used a phone in-store to compare prices or look up information.

Meanwhile, Dr Ira Kalish, director of global research group Deloitte announced he did not think there will be a double-dip recession but predicted slow growth for 2011.

Kalish said that in recession countries, consumers are deleveraging and paying down debts whilst saving more and spending less.

According to Kalish, high unemployment in the USA is causing uncertainty in the market and will result in a reduction in consumer spending.