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EDITORIAL Joules, Ted Baker and Studio Retail: how retailers are responding as more sales than ever take place online

Image courtesy of Joules

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as the latest figures shows that nearly 60% of non-food retail sales took place online in November, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. That’s the highest online share seen so far, following on from June when 50.7% of non-food sales were online and comes at a time when non-essential retail shops in England and Wales were closed for much of the month as a result of a Covid-19 lockdown.

We have news of how two fashion retailers have fared during the first half of their financial year as a result of Covid-19. Joules, which sells relatively casual clothing, homewares, and childrenswear, through a ‘total retail’ strategy, has seen strong ecommerce sales in the first half of its financial year. Its sales are still down, year-on-year, but it expects to make a profit in the current year. It has been helped enormously by the fact that half of its sales were already online before the pandemic, while demand during lockdown has helped to show the brand has remained relevant. 

Ted Baker, meanwhile, has been hit by its reliance on formalwear and city centre shops, taking it to a huge half-year loss and causing it to make more than 900 redundancies. The one bright spot for the retailer, however, is that it is performing well online, an area where the upmarket brand plans to focus for the future. 

Studio Retail, meanwhile, has seen its sales rise fast as customers bought more of their shopping online – and many used its credit to do so. Games Workshop is predicting very strong sales and profits rises in the first half of its year. All are an illustration of the very different effect that this year’s pandemic has had on different kinds of businesses. Those that relied on the custom of office workers in city centres have been hit hard, while those who sold goods that are used at home fared better, especially when they had a strong online system.

Frasers Group, which has asked Studio Retail to carry out a strategic review since it believes its value is underestimated by the market, is also talking to Debenhams’ administrators about a potential takeover. It warns that time is tight and, as yet, there is no certainty for the department store and the 12,000 people who work there.

In today’s guest comment, Steve Carrod of DMPG argues that retailers must build customer relationships that last beyond Christmas. 

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