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EDITORIAL How multichannel integration is moving up the agenda as shoppers return in-store but still buy online

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In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as fashion retailers show how they are continuing to see shoppers return in-store to buy, over the last year and especially over the Christmas trading period.

That’s the case for Levi’s, Superdry and H&M group, which all reported a rise in in-store sales as they published their latest figures this week. But Levi’s said sales had fallen online – while continuing to be ahead of pre-pandemic 2019 – and Superdry reported relatively slow ecommerce growth in the first half of its year, although it also had a record Black Friday week online.

Small wonder that H&M is making integrating its online and in-store channels a priority in the year ahead, as it looks to strengthen its profitability following a year in which it has counted the cost of winding down its businesses in Russia and Belarus. 

The effect of that trend for customers to return to stores is being seen on Great Britain’s streets, as the store vacancy rate falls for the fifth month in a row, according to the BRC and the Local Data Company. But, just as online sales are still above their pre-pandemic rate, so too store vacancies are higher than they were before Covid-19. 

At the same time, there’s hints of a change in shoppers’ attitude towards buying online, as Sendcloud research suggests that shoppers are now more willing to pay for returns. Shoppers are also more likely to appreciate that sending online orders back has a negative effect on the environment, the study suggests. 

Sustainability is an area we also cover in today’s predictions, part of a series now nearing the end of its January run. Today the focus is on how attitudes to sustainability may develop in the coming year. 

In today’s guest comment, Samir El-Sabini of Juni has suggestions on how retailers and brands can best navigate a challenging economy

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