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EDITORIAL How ecommerce and multichannel retail performed in a year marked by Covid-19 and Brexit

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

In today’s InternetRetailing, we’re reporting as the latest figures show retail GDP fell by 2.2% in 2020 – and headline UK GDP by 9.9%, the largest fall ever seen. The BRC is calling for government help in the upcoming budget for the retailers that it calculated missed out of £22bn in lost sales when they had to close their non-essential retail stores during lockdown. 

That sets the background for the RetailX Top500 2021, published this week, which shows how the ecommerce and multichannel industry has been transformed in a tumultuous year. It considers how the industry has risen to the challenges that Covid-19 brought, and how retail has shifted online during the year – and names the Top500 retailers of this year, including much-changed Elite and Leading groups.

In other news, Ted Baker this week says that its digital-led transformation plan is on track – although its sales fell by 47% in the fourth, Christmas, quarter of its financial year. It also says that it is expecting the new post-Brexit trade arrangements to cost it up to £5m in extra costs. 

The update comes as the first studies are now starting to emerge looking at how businesses including online retailers and the customers who buy online are responding to the post-Brexit free trade deal. A survey from the British Chambers of Commerce suggests that while many businesses are unaffected by the day-to-day realities of Brexit, retailers and other exporters have been taken aback by the scale of extra work now emerging. A second study, from Eskenzi PR, suggests that 34% of customers are now less willing to buy from European retailers, largely because they fear disruption when it comes to delivery.

Royal Mail this week published its latest results for its busiest ever Christmas trading period – thanks to the combination of lockdown and peak trading, and says that while less international post has been sent since January, it’s too soon to reach firm conclusions about the effect of Brexit on its business. 

Today’s guest comment stays on the subject of Brexit, as Christophe Pecoraro of PFS Europe considers how retailers can rethink retail fulfilment in the light of the new free trade arrangements. 

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