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EDITORIAL From Long Tall Sally to Waitrose: how retail is feeling the side-effects of Covid-19

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In today’s InternetRetailing we’re reporting as Covid-19 continues to have huge and far-reaching effects on online and multichannel retailers. Today Long Tall Sally says the future, with its likely Covid-induced recession, is just too uncertain for it to continue trading. The retailer, which shut its shops in 2018, is now set to turn off its website at the end of August. 

Travis Perkins is also consulting on cutting 2,500 jobs ahead of a future recession, although it looks as if its retail businesses Wickes and Toolstation should emerge relatively unscathed thanks in part to their strong digital services.

Meanwhile, Waitrose is having a very different experience of Covid-19 since shoppers have turned online as never before to buy their groceries, as they stayed home during the lockdown. Waitrose says its orders have more than doubled since the beginning of the year – reflecting the wider expansion in online grocery orders, and the supermarket is buying more delivery vans to help it manage demand.

Joules reports today that it’s also seen demand rise fast online while its shops have been shut, although it expects to report a loss of up to £3m in its latest full-year. It’s approaching store reopening cautiously – and we report that the latest footfall figures show store visitor numbers up sharply on Monday morning, as shops reopened, compared to last week, but still down by a third compared to the same time last year. We take a look at how Elite RXUK Top500 retailers have approached reopening their stores. The cautious approach taken by Joules is echoed by many, including Dunelm which has been opened for a while but is now providing reassurance through a range of multichannel services, and is trialling virtual buying in store.  

From our European coverage, we report as Zalando extends connected retail to Poland, Sweden and Spain, and in today’s guest comment, Michael Valdsgaard of London Dynamics argues that companies need to look to the bleeding edge of ecommerce innovation and embrace tools that anticipate what customers will want in the post-Covid years ahead.

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