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EDITORIAL How retailers and their customers are ensuring they have what they need for Peak 2021

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The winners of this year’s peak trading season – the high point in most UK retailers’ year – will likely be those who have enough products in stock to sell, given global issues with shipping and wider economic challenges from inflation to labour shortages. In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as both THG and Studio Retail say they have taken early action to ensure they have strong availability ahead of peak trading. But even with this early action, Studio warns that forecasts are hard to make and that there could still be availability issues on a limited number of lines. 

Studio has been stocking up ahead of peak trading, and says it now has 10% more goods in stock than it did a year ago. It took early action in the light of well-publicised supply chain disruption. 

THG also says it has plenty of stock, and again, that’s thanks to early action. It also says that it’s seeing inflation in commodity, labour and logistics – but it is planning to manage those through logistics automation and cost cutting. The business also says it’s on track to spin out its THG Ingenuity business – the division that develops its technology platform and works with third-party brands to operate their ecommerce businesses – in its next financial year. 

At the same time, we report on the latest research into how shoppers plan to buy this Black Friday. We cover three studies, which come to different conclusions but all show shoppers working out how to make a success of peak shopping despite a range of challenges, from potential supply chain and delivery delays through to fear of Christmas Covid-19 lockdowns. 

Elsewhere, John Lewis continues to experiment with new store formats. This time it’s temporary pop-up stores for its Anyday own brand, which has broken John Lewis records since its launch in April. Previously it has experimented with John Lewis At Home stores, and stores near to commuter hubs. However, most of these have since closed as consumer behaviour changed post-Covid. Now John Lewis seems to be playing it safe with temporary pop-up stores near to its existing department stores, promoting a brand that has been very successful since it was launched in April. 

Tesco has apologised to customers after a cyberattack took both its website and its app down over the weekend. It says it does not believe that customer data was put at risk. Research suggests that most retailers now face cyberattacks at some point, and only three in 10 believe they are well placed to deal with them. 

In today’s guest comment, Oliver Guy of Software AG, says retailers must adapt to compete with the etail behemoths. And that includes building a new delivery infrastructure, using partners as well as in-house operations. 

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