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EDITORIAL How online and multichannel retailers are approaching Covid-19 side-effects

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In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as The Very Group says it’s set to make revenues of more than £2bn for the first time in its current financial year – but says that profits may stay flat, compared to last year. That’s because while the online department store won many new customers and increased its share of the non-food market during coronavirus lockdown, it did so by selling less profitable electricals and homewares goods. Fashion sales, which have higher profit margins, declined.

The way the clothing market has been hit is proving challenging for New Look as well. The fast fashion multichannel retailer is refinancing and hopes to renegotiate its rents to reflect turnover as it works to catch up with the way that more shoppers are now buying more goods online. 

London’s West End is also suffering the side-effects of lockdown. The New West End Company says that its own research suggests that shoppers are more relaxed about buying in-store -– but they are still concerned about using public transport to get to stores. It’s asking for support as it faces what Mayor of London Sadiq Khan describes as an “existential threat”.

A study from eBay Advertising, meanwhile, finds a retail opportunity. It suggests that shoppers are already starting to buy now ahead of Christmas – and that makes it a good time for retailers to consider what shoppers will want to buy and how they can promote their own wares to early peak customers.

Finally, the Department for International Development has teamed up with retailers to support supply chains in developing countries. It’s pairing retailers with aid and ethical trade organisations that can help suppliers in countries including Ghana and Myanmar to operate safely despite Covid-19 and continue to supply UK grocers, clothing shops and others. 

There’s useful advice for those dealing with these and other challenges thrown up by Covid in today’s guest comment, where Terry Hunter of Astound Commerce considers how to turn resilience into long-term revenue.

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