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EDITORIAL How digital offers retailers from grocers to fashion stores a path out of lockdown

Image courtesy of the Co-op

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as a new report suggests that digital investment will help boost the value of the retail sector by £21bn by 2040. The report, from the CEBR and Virgin Media Business, sees such investment as a way for the sector – and the UK more widely – to bounce back from the effects of Covid-19. 

The report comes as RetailX research illustrates the way the grocery sector has used digital to respond to the effects of Covid-19 over the last year, and how retailers from Aldi to the Co-op acted quickly to add or expand online shopping capabilities to existing offline businesses to give often vulnerable shoppers more flexibility in the way they buy during the pandemic and related lockdowns. The report comes from the 2021 edition of the RetailX Top500 UK, where retailers can now see whether they appear in this year’s listing – and if so, where.  

The shift online has prompted Virgin Wines to float on the stockmarket, as it looks to capitalise on shoppers’ developing appetite to buy wine and other alcoholic drinks online. Its plans include a monthly gin subscription and expansion of its ’beer box’ subscription. 

Our guest comment today stays with the theme of the path offered out of lockdown by digital investment, as Nick Shaw of Brightpearl considers five ecommerce strategies fashion retailers can deploy. 

Today we’re reporting on the challenges being experienced by UK retailers when they import and export, and how the number of people visiting shops is starting to recover, slowly, even during lockdown. 

UK retailers have been put to the test by Covid-19 in recent months. Those that have weathered the challenge most successfully include those that invested in digital before the pandemic, from Amazon to Argos, Asda to Tesco – all ranked as Elite retailers in this year’s RXUK Top500 report. As vaccination rates now continue to rise, it’s likely that shoppers will continue to buy online while also buying in stores: improving the customer experience through digital will help retailers prosper as the industry recovers from the side-effects of Covid-19. 

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