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EDITORIAL Signs of a retail spring in the air as pent-up demand reaches stores and online sales moderate

In today’s InternetRetailing signs of spring are in the air for retailers as sales start to recover following last month’s reopening. Non-essential retailers are no longer relying on ecommerce alone for sales, while stores will make multichannel services easier to deliver. 

Joules today says it’s feeling the effects of pent-up demand as shoppers return in-store, following months in which its online sales have grown strongly. Its stores are now present in more ‘lifestyle’ locations – including Center Parcs. 

Morrisons says that its online sales more than doubled during its mostly-locked down first quarter, but it’s now seeing evidence that sales patterns are starting to return to normal as shoppers opt for more meal deals and is looking forward to customers being able to return inside its cafés from next week. 

These are both experiences that are reflected in the latest BRC/KPMG retail sales figures and Barclaycard consumer spending insights. The BRC figures show shoppers buying more from stores as ecommerce’s share of retail sales declines from lockdown levels. That said, it remains the case that more sales took place online last month than in April 2019, before the pandemic started. 

But while sales figures are recovering from the pandemic, it has taken a more lasting toll on mental health among the retail workforce – especially on shop floors, in distribution centres and among younger staff. We report on a two-day retailTrust conference – ongoing and also available on demand – that encourages a return to health and happiness as retail reemerges from the pandemic. Speakers from a range of retailers are considering subjects from managing change to reaching out for help. 

And today we have news of two innovations that have a focus on sustainability today. Royal Mail is trialling the use of drones to deliver online orders – along with Covid supplies and mail – to the Scilly Isles. And charity shop website Thriftily has expanded to the UK from Ireland with a mission to encourage more sustainable shopping while helping charity shops to value their donations more accurately. 

In today’s guest comment, Tido Carriero of Twilio Segment considers how retailers can manage the data influx to get the most out of their digital interactions. 

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