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EDITORIAL Ikea, Uniqlo, Boots and Dunelm on customers shifting online; BRC and PWC on sustainability

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In today’s InternetRetailing retailers from a variety of categories are showing how far their businesses have moved online during the Covid-19 pandemic and related trading restrictions. 

Not only did the pandemic effectively turn many multichannel retailers into pureplay businesses for the duration of lockdowns, it also gave shoppers more experience in buying online, while pushing retailers into improving their ecommerce. The results of all that activity can now be seen as retailers report their figures. And as yet, it seems the online shift is likely to be here to stay.

Inter Ikea Group reports that more than a quarter of Ikea retail sales took place online in a year in which its ecommerce sales grew by 73%. The retailer stopped producing the Ikea catalogue during a time in which 5bn visits were made to its website.

Meanwhile, a fifth of Uniqlo International sales – the division of the clothing retailer that operates in the UK – were online during its parent company FastRetailing’s latest financial year. The retailer says it will now focus on fast ecommerce expansion, and on improving sustainability. That will mean less discounting to sell – and indeed, selling fewer products but doing so more profitably, while using fewer resources. 

At Boots, online sales continue to be well ahead of the levels that the health and beauty retailers saw pre-Covid. But while digital sales ran at twice pre-pandemic levels in its latest quarter, footfall continues to be down at the same time. It all adds up to a shift online that, as yet, shows little sign of reversing. 

A third of Dunelm sales were online during its latest quarter – perhaps as shoppers responded to its efforts to make shopping as easy as possible. And we report on pizza business Domino’s as it sees 40% of its business now taking place via its mobile app. Domino’s is not listed in the RetailX Top500 as a retailer, but it’s often proved an interesting business for giving a preview of retail trends. 

Today we also report on figures that suggest not only did people become more concerned  about sustainability during the pandemic but they also acted on that concern, collectively reducing their carbon emissions. There’s new advice for retailers from the British Retail Consortium and PwC on how to work with and encourage their customers to move towards net zero. This is part of the BRC’s net zero campaign – advice covers more sustainable ways of buying, and recycling products after use. 

Today’s guest comment comes from Augustin Prot of Weglot who says language barriers should not block international growth for UK retailers. 

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