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EDITORIAL How retailers are trading in the run up to Christmas; PLUS latest from H&M, Currys and Co-op

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In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting on the final run up to Christmas of this year’s peak trading season. We’re also covering November retail sales figures from the ONS and IMRG. All speak to another peak season of uncertainty, with factors from strikes – affecting both the postal service and train companies –  to inflation affecting shopper confidence, while supply chain issues are also affecting retailers. That raises questions in turn as to whether, how and when they will buy. With today the last day to send first class post for pre-Christmas delivery the focus will soon move to shopping in-store, with one more full week before Christmas Day. 

But while the ONS’s retail sales report for November estimates that shoppers less online between October 30 and November 26, IMRG’s findings for the full month are in more positive territory. But although it finds shoppers spent more online in November than the year before, it now sees sales in December are lower than last year. 

One finding in today’s ONS report is that online sales at retailers in its ‘other’ category, which includes electricals and technology, are down by 12.8% on last year.  It comes a day after electricals retailer Currys reported a 10% first-half decline fall in UK and Ireland sales – showing how difficult the category will be for most. There are useful insights in Currys figures for others. It suggests that technology shoppers appreciate an omnichannel model, with most preferring to shop in-store but still wanting to buy online – and it sets out what it is doing to invest in this approach. 

Meanwhile, H&M counts the cost in lost sales of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on its business, in a full-year trading update. Since the war started, H&M has closed 185 stores in Russia as well as shutting its Belarus business. It’s also temporarily closed its Ukraine stores for safety reasons.  However, it’s started to see something of a recovery from that in the final quarter of its financial year, perhaps offering hope, along with ONS figures that suggest a pick-up in clothing sales, to other retailers in its category.

We also report as the Co-op strikes a deal with Just Eat as part of the grocer’s strategy of fast online expansion both through its own website and through delivery partners. 

In today’s guest comment, Josh Ackerman of Stripe sets out five ways that retailers can optimise their checkout – and boost sales. 

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