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EDITORIAL How multichannel retailers are benefiting as digital brings shoppers into store

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In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we have the latest as retailers share their Christmas sales figures. Overall, it seems, this has been a festive season in which pureplay retailers may have suffered for their lack of stores as shoppers returned to the high street to buy amid delivery delays. But at the same time, multichannel retailers have benefited from their online services, which have helped to boost sales both over the internet and in-store.

Pureplay fashion retailers Asos and N Brown Group both report falling sales in the run up to Christmas. For N Brown, owner of Simply Be, Jacamo and JD Williams, that comes as shoppers take a cautious approach to spending as finances become less certain. Halfords, meanwhile, is seeing its customers focus on buying the necessities rather than the big ticket items, and, despite a sharp rise in revenues, it’s lowering its profit forecast in the light of changing spending patterns and a shortage of qualified workers for its autocentres. 

Very has bucked the pureplay trend of online decline, however. It says its month-long approach to Black Friday has paid off in terms of being able to manage peaks, while its use of automation has helped take the pressure off both customer service and warehouses.

DFS, on the other hand, saw demand for its sofas fall in the early autumn – before recovering again in the approach to the festive season, and into the new year sale. DFS says it’s continuing to invest in the long term, and its strategy of being a digital leader in the furniture category.

Multichannel retailer Marks & Spencer points to the importance of digital in its strong Christmas figures. The company saw only a small rise in online home and clothing sales – but a 20% expansion in use of its click and collect service as shoppers returned to stores during a festive season marked by delivery delays. 

Meanwhile, supermarket Tesco saw strong festive trade at its large supermarkets and convenience stores – but also saw its online grocery service return to year-on-year growth. Online sales, says Tesco, are now 59% higher than before the pandemic

Today’s regular predictions piece focuses on delivery, and how the last mile may change in the coming year. 

In today’s guest comment, Rob Shaw of Fluent Commerce weighs up the options for managing stock.

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