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EDITORIAL Tesco, Boohoo, N Brown and Asos on inflation and the cost-of-living crisis

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In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as three fashion pureplays and the UK’s largest supermarket this week report their latest figures, with the effect of inflation a common factor for all. 

N Brown says trading has been challenging as customers lose confidence in the face of rising inflation. It says it’s seeing shopping patterns return to normal, with more shoppers buying clothing – and particularly for formal events – while the pandemic boom in online homewares sales has fallen away to an extent. It’s also seeing the new JD Williams sustainable clothing brand Anise selling well. 

Asos has also seen its sales dip, and it suggests that inflation is having an effect on the way that shoppers in both Europe and the UK are buying. It sees sales slowing and returns rising as shoppers hesitate to spend – and says it’s too early to know how long that will last.  

Boohoo says that shoppers are getting back to pre-pandemic buying patterns, buying for holidays and events, but also returning a higher proportion of their purchases as it reports an 8% fall in sales in its third quarter. For Boohoo, inflationary pressures means managing costs in areas such as marketing. The retail group’s figures show that while its sales are down on last year, they are 75% ahead of the same time three years ago – illustrating how its strategy of acquisitions of brands out of administration – from Oasis and Warehouse to Dorothy Perkins – has helped to build the scale of its business in recent years.

Like Boohoo, Tesco is similarly looking to mitigate the effect of inflation for its customers as they are hit by the cost-of-living crisis. The supermarket’s first quarter figures show how much its ecommerce business grew as shoppers moved online during the pandemic, although it is now 

We also report as Amazon extends its annual Prime Day event to more than 20 countries this summer, as WHSmith offers more convenient fulfilment options in the form of in-store lockers in stores across the country, and as Doddle launches kiosks to handle returns. Today’s guest comment comes from Rob Shaw of Fluent Commerce, with five ways that retailers can benefit from virtual inventory catalogues, and from our Netherlands Beauty Report 2022, we report on how Dutch beauty retailer Douglas is using live-streaming as part of its digital-first approach to retail. 

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