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EDITORIAL From John Lewis to Card Factory: how retailers are investing online and in-store as customer preferences change

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as retailers from John Lewis to Card Factory investing in a way that reflects the way shoppers now want to buy more online than before the pandemic. At the same time, high streets and shopping centres are seeing renewed interest both from shoppers and from retail brands opening new stores. Both reflect the way that customer demand is changing as the UK moves on from Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

John Lewis and Waitrose owner the John Lewis Partnership is hiring 150 more people to its technology teams as it continues to see its customers do a greater amount of their shopping online. It says getting close to its customers and enabling them to shop they way prefer is going to be key to its future success.

At the same time, Card Factory reports on its investment both in stores and online, as it sees more visitors – and sales – in-store but at a time when its full-year online sales are 135% higher than they were before the pandemic.

The latest Accenture research suggests that shoppers are now intrigued by the possibility of shopping in the metaverse. It finds that eight in 10 will now consider visiting the metaverse to make or research a purchase, while more than half would consider buying clothes to wear there.

But at the same time as interest in virtual shopping appears to be piqued, shoppers are returning to physical high streets, according to the latest figures from Springboard, while shop vacancies are declining, according to the latest BRC-LDC vacancy rate index. Both measures suggest that customers do want to buy in-store. At the same time, they also appear to want to buy online. Getting it right will be important for retailers as they navigate challenging times ahead.

For the latest EY figures suggest that UK retailers are issuing profit warnings in the face of supply chain problems and rising costs, and at a greater rate than other industries. Profit warnings are higher than since the early months of the pandemic, according to the EY-Parthenon report.

In today’s guest comment, Neil Kuschel of Global-e argues that an international direct to consumer approach is now key for brands looking to grow online.

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