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EDITORIAL How retailers are responding as balance between online and the store shifts once more

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as the latest retail sales figures continue to show a picture of shoppers resolving to spend less, and returning to stores more often when they do spend. Online sales are down compared to both a year earlier and a month earlier, according to today’s ONS figures, while overall retail sales also saw a fall. December appears to have been good month for online homewares retailers, however. 

That’s certainly the experience of Dunelm, which this week reports fast-rising Christmas sales, of which – 35% are online. It takes a multichannel approach to digital, enabling shoppers to order online in-store, and for collection as well as for home delivery. The retailer says that it had strong demand for its ‘winter warm’ range, likely as shoppers look to cut energy bills.

The Works also today reports rising sales in the first half of its financial year and over Christmas as shoppers looked to its stores for value. But while sales are rising, they are not rising as fast as inflation and the effect of that on its costs – which in turn means a widening pre-tax loss. The retailer puts falling online sales down in part to pre-Christmas postal strikes, chiming with what the ONS has heard from retailers. It’s focusing on a ‘better, not bigger’ strategy.

At Hotel Chocolat, meanwhile, the strategy is one of “quality over quantity”. The retailer is also feeling return to store, with online sales falling but in-store sales higher. For Hotel Chocolat that means a fall in sales that it says are part of its transition towards a more profitable business. 

Boohoo, meanwhile, says its 11% year-on-year sales fall reflects a return for online shopping towards a new post-pandemic normal – smaller than in pandemic peaks but still higher than before Covid-19. And Gear4music is looking to Europe for growth, having reported flat UK sales over Christmas. 

Seraphine today says that it’s suffering on the stockmarket for its reliance on ecommerce. The retailer today announces that its largest shareholder has offered to buy it, in a move supported by the board but subject to shareholder approval, for a tenth of what it raised when it floated online 18 months ago. 

We also report today on the latest figures from multichannel brand Dr Martens, which is feeling the adverse effects of an operational bottleneck in its LA distribution centre. 

In today’s guest comment, Will Brownsdon of Hivestack focuses on what retailers stand to gain from digital out of home (DOOH) as shoppers return to the high street. 

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