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EDITORIAL How multichannel is helping retail’s winners and losers to emerge from the pandemic

The new normal in stores is also an opportunity (Image: Shutterstock)

The new normal in stores is also an opportunity (Image: Shutterstock)

Much of what has happened to retailers – as in other parts of life – has been about luck or bad luck over the last year of the Covid-19 pandemic. For those that were lucky enough to be selling the right goods in the right place at the right time, a strong multichannel retail model has helped make a difference that now puts these retailers in prime position for the future. That’s the case for JD Sports, which today says its multichannel retail model has given it a competitive advantage in a year of unprecedented challenges – thanks in part to the luck of selling casual wear and sportswear that grew in popularity during the pandemic.

But Quiz is also a multichannel retailer – and its multichannel retail model could not shield it from the bad luck of selling the wrong type of goods (occasionwear) in the wrong places (such as department stores) and at the wrong time (during a global pandemic). But now the clothing that it sells looks likely to be more popular as events and social occasions reopen. As long as that proves to be the case, its multichannel model should help it towards a comeback, with shops now reopening. 

Now those that have been both lucky and able to trade across channels are in prime position for the reopening – which started this week in England. We report on some of the ways that retailers are rethinking the role of the store as they reopen this week. 

The latest footfall figures suggest that shoppers were pleased to be back in stores at the beginning of the week. That will doubtless help to shift the way that shoppers buy away from online. Retail sales figures out today from the BRC and IMRG show strong performances online during the latest lockdown – in future months the big question will be how much things change now that shops are open again. JD Sports’ executive chairman Peter Cowgill today says that shops are the platform for customers to see and try the products it sells and has confidence that they will, therefore want to return in-store. We’ll be watching with interest to how things change.

In today’s guest comment Steve Barrett of PagerDuty says it’s time to learn from the digital insurgents about what works when it comes to both online and high street shopping. 

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