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EDITORIAL How shoppers are returning in-store – but continuing to buy online at the same time

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as shoppers returned to buy from non-essential stores as they were gradually able to reopen in April, but still appear to be buying more online than they did before the pandemic. That’s encouraging retailers to continue to invest online as ecommerce looks set to account for a greater share of business. 

Retail sales figures out today from the ONS show online sales falling in April as stores reopened, while in-store sales rebounded. However, ecommerce is still well up compared to the same time last year.

That’s a similar pattern to that being seen at Card Factory, which says that its stores, now opened from the latest lockdowns in all its markets, are trading well, with in-store sales marginally below pre-pandemic 2019 levels, and online sales now below lockdown levels – but higher than they were in 2019. It says new lending will give it the space to invest in its online business, as it continues to monitor and respond to changes in customer behaviour. 

Kingfisher Group has seen its sales grow quickly in the first quarter of its financial year as many of its retail brands including B&Q and Screwfix post strong sales both online and in-store. Screwfix has upgraded its mobile app – improving the customer experience on the device that most of its online shoppers use to buy. 

Watches of Switzerland says its online sales more than doubled in a year in which it invested in areas from digital marketing to CRM – while sales across all channels grew by 11.7%. Luxury watches proved particularly popular during the year.

N Brown Group – the home shopping group that owns Simply Be, Jacamo and JD Williams, says that it is now “significantly transformed” following a challenging year in which sales and profits fell – but it refocused on digital, on social and on improved design while closing some of its more traditional brands. 

In today’s guest comment, Deren Baker of Ascential says a marketplace strategy will be key to future online success.

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