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EDITORIAL Paperchase, Next, Morrisons and Aldi show the effect of Christmas and Covid-19 restrictions 

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Today’s InternetRetailing newsletter returns from the Christmas break into Lockdown 3.0. We report on how shoppers are now buying online once more as non-essential stores across the UK close in a bid to prevent Covid-19 overwhelming the NHS. This comes days after the UK left the Brexit transition period with a new and much leaner deal than before. We report what the deal, clinched on Christmas Eve, means in practice for online and multichannel retailers importing from and exporting to the EU. 

The latest lockdown is set to prove testing for retailers whose shops have been closed for many of the last 10 months. Among them is Paperchase which today filed a notice of its intention to appoint administrators. The retailer will be looking at how to make its business sustainable for the long-term. 

Next is facing similar challenges but today it reports that it has been able to expand its online trading to such an extent that it came close to compensating for its store closures during the fourth quarter of its financial year.  Next will be unusual in that, since half of its stores were already online before the pandemic started – and its flexibility comes at a cost since pre-tax profits are on track to be half of what they were last year.  But it does show that it is possible for online to make up for lack of stores within an agile multichannel strategy. 

Grocery retailers have had a very different pandemic experience and today we report as both Morrisons and Aldi report fast sales growth over a Christmas period in which both benefitted from online innovation put in place during the course of the last year. 

We report too on how the shape of retailing changed over the peak trading season in Christmas wee and beyond. Footfall fell away, as we show in our peak trading round-up as shoppers either opted to or had to buy online as stores in their area closed.

In today’s guest comment, Brendan Walsh of Mirakl argues that marketplaces hold the key to retail recovery.  And we’re looking towards 2021. And sustainability is the theme of the first in a series of predictions pieces looking ahead to what 2021 may hold for ecommerce and multichannel retailers. 

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