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UPDATED Coronavirus round-up: Oasis and Warehouse, John Lewis, Next, Quiz, vouchers to help local shops, Easter footfall and more

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Shifting shopping: more shoppers heading online
Shifting shopping: more shoppers heading online
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The latest on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on retail for 15-04-20

We’re reporting on the effect of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic on the way UK shoppers buy – and on how retailers are responding to that changing behaviour. This update comes as 88,621 positive cases have been confirmed by Public Health England as of 9am on April 15 and 12,107 people have died. Daily figures show 5,252 cases and 778 deaths over the previous 24 hours.

 

OASIS AND WAREHOUSE GROUP: PANDEMIC ENDS HOPES OF SELL OFF

It is widely expected that women’s fashion chains Oasis and Warehouse are poised to collapse into administration today, the latest victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdown.

 

Oasis and Warehouse Group’s owners, Icelandic lender Kaupthing, is set to appoint accountancy firm Deloitte to oversee the administration process, which could see 2300 jobs lost across its nearly 540 stores and concessions.

 

The administrators are expected to furlough the majority of the employees who keep their jobs under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

 

The move comes three weeks after the group was put up for sale, with a “potential buyer” waiting in the wings. Although there is understood to have been strong interest in a deal, the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic is thought to have made a sale impossible to conclude.

 

JOHN LEWIS TAKES PERSONAL ADVICE ONLINE

John Lewis has launched a new online hub where customers can get advice and inspiration, as well as book the retailer’s one-to-one sessions with experts on nursery, home, gardening and cooking.

 

The free and bookable, advice-driven, one-to-one video appointments will enable the retailer to provide core services to support the nation during lockdown, maintaining its ambition to be there every step of the way for its customers. Read the full story here.

 

NEXT SHUTS WEBSITE TWO HOURS AFTER RE-OPENING IT

Retailer Next has had to shut its website just two hours after it much trumpeted re-opening as it hit its self-imposed daily order limit.

 

The retailer opened its site at 7am on Tuesday for children’s clothes and small homewares, but was forced to shut it again by 9am until today as it hit an order limit in place to keep warehouse staff to a minimum.

 

QUIZ REOPENS ITS ONLINE BUSINESS

Fashion retailer Quiz has reopened its online store after closing it down in late March. The site is fully functioning and offering the retailer’s full range, however it is only offering standard delivery.

 

In a statement, Quiz said operations will be undertaken by employees who are willing and able to return to work safely. In addition, it has significantly reduced the number of employees working in its distribution centre at any one time to enable it to enforce social distancing.

 

The retailer has also introduced a range of additional safety measures including deep cleaning and the provision of personal protection equipment.

 

ONLINE FASHION TAKES A HIT, BUT OTHER VERTICALS KEEP GOING

Online clothing sales were down -23.1% Year-on-Year (YoY), but online garden sales soaring to +94.4%, beauty sales rise by +36% and electricals by +40% YoY, as shopping habits shift to things people can do at home.

 

The latest figures from IMRG CapGemini for March show that the month started off with poor online sales for the first fortnight, thanks to stockpiling in the weeks before hand, but seemed to recover in weeks 3 and 4 following the Government’s announcement of official home isolation rules on March 17.

 

Meanwhile, as they are forced to shift more operations into the digital sphere, multichannel retailers outperformed their online only counterparts for the first time since April 2019, recording growth of -4.0% versus -5.5%, says IMRG’s Andy Mulcahy. Read the full story here.

 

UK SHOPPING HABITS CHANGED FOR GOOD

A survey commissioned by global commerce services company PFS to look at changes in consumer online purchasing behaviour, as well as their perceptions and expectations of brands around the pandemic, finds that three in five (60%) consumers have purchased more goods since the lockdown began, than they did before, with 53% having shopped more online.

 

More than three quarters (77%) of these went on to say that they expect they will continue to purchase online more once the lockdown is over - indicating a potentially irreversible change in consumer purchasing behaviour.

 

Some 39% of respondents also reported that they had been encouraged to purchase products online that they had not considered before, such as pet food and shoes, which increased to 61% for Generation Z and more than half (52%) of Millennials – good news for online retailers.

 

Conversely, 50% of shoppers report unsatisfactory online shopping experiences resulting in them being left disappointed at not being able to get something they wanted delivered. This rises to 75% of Gen Z and 63% of Millennials. Read the full story here.

 

FOOTFALL TAKES A Y-O-Y HIT OF 80% THIS EASTER

With people heeding government advice and staying home, footfall across UK retail bricks and mortar destinations was 83.1% lower than Easter weekend last year and 14.5% lower than over the same four days in the previous week.

 

These results from Springboard follow closely on from its figures for the month of March, which ended just a week prior to Easter. March 2020 will forever be remembered as the month that the UK went into lock down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, with the closure of all stores but those selling the most essential of items. The resulting impact on footfall in retail destinations inevitably was an unprecedented decline of -41.3% over the month from March 2019.

 

The impact of the lock down was immediate and enormous; whilst in the first two weeks of the month, before the lock down was implemented, footfall declined annually by an average of just -2.9%, in the final three weeks the year on year drop averaged -61.5%, reaching -81.4% in the last week. Read the full story here.

 

VOUCHER SCHEME AIMS TO HELP SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES

As the coronavirus lockdown continues, a fifth of local businesses fear they will never reopen their doors, even after restrictions are lifted. Now a new, not-for-profit voucher scheme – Saving Local – means customers can help many of their favourite businesses survive the shutdown.

 

Saving Local enables loyal customers who are keen to support their favourite local businesses to buy vouchers for products and meals now, for later use when the lockdown period finally ends.

 

The scheme is the brainchild of Charles Astwood, founder of dining website London-Eating, which pioneered user reviews.

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