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EDITORIAL Latest figures show a big return to stores – after a year in which online retailers have grown fast

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In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as the figures start to show just how keen shoppers have been to return in-store in the first week following the reopening from lockdown 3.0.

Store-only Primark says it’s seen record trading in its stores as footfall returns to pre-Covid 19 levels in England and Wales, post-lockdown. Despite not having a transactional website, it nonetheless sees a strong role for digital in its business, and it’s now planning to invest more both in the content on its website and in digital marketing as it uses the channel to raise awareness of its business. The update comes as Primark owner Associated British Foods has its half-year figures out today, and worth noting that ABF believes rising vaccine levels are part of the reason why footfall is returning more strongly now than it did after the first lockdown, back in June. 

The Primark figures come soon after Springboard and Hammerson reported rises in footfall following reopening. Springboard reported rises of up to 600% – in central London – for footfall over the last week. It detects the strongest rises in England and Wales, where non-essential retail has now reopened, although across the market it seems that retail is still down on the levels it saw in pre-pandemic 2019. Primark may be different here because it doesn’t have a transactional website. According to Springboard figures, retail parks are now closer to the 2019 norm than any other location. 

Despite this week’s strong rise it’s too soon yet to say what will happen to the balance between online and store sales long-term. As Diane Wehrle of Springboard points out, it’s likely that in in-store footfall – and sales – will settle down to a lower level post-pandemic as shoppers continue to buy across sales channels, choosing the one that is most convenient in any given moment. It’s likely that shoppers who have turned online to retailers including beauty specialist Feelunique, which today reports record figures after a year of lockdown, will continue to do so, while also visiting stores at the times that are right for them.

Studio Retail has also benefited from strong online growth over the year and we report on how the company is now building on that growth and targeting £1bn in annual sales. 

Today we’re also reporting on what Top500 retailers and brands from Decathlon, Asos and Mulberry to Aldi are doing to make their businesses more sustainable

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, Jason Tavaria of InPost, says retailers can benefit from selling online, while investing in the wider infrastructure that supports retail. 

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