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EDITORIAL Tesco, Halfords, Dr Martens and more on the shift online

Shoppers appear keen to return in-store but still nervous about crowds. Image: Shutterstock

Shoppers appear keen to return in-store but still nervous about crowds. Image: Shutterstock

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as the latest ONS figures suggest online sales fell back last month, compared to the previous month, although they were still ahead on the same time last year. May was the first month in which shops were fully open. One notable finding from the ONS research is that the growth in online food shopping seems to have continued. More than 10% of sales in this category took place online in May, compared to just over 5% in February 2020, before the pandemic started. 

That chimes with Tesco’s online sales figures, out today for the first quarter of its financial year. An average of 1.3m deliveries were made a week, with sales up by 22% since last year, and by 86% compared to two years ago. The supermarket says the driver for this change was the doubling in delivery capacity that it put in place during the first lockdown, now a year ago. That expansion of capacity over the year also helps to explain why the ONS figures show online sales 2% ahead of last year this May, even though ecommerce was much more urgent a year ago. 

The theme of online expansion – and the general shift online – is there for other retailers reporting their figures this week. Halfords says its online sales more than doubled over the last year, while Dr Martens shoes and boots were selling well online while shops were closed. For both, investment in ecommerce and in digital customer engagement has been key. Dr Martens broadcast more than 20 gigs in lockdown via Instagram and says such engagement has been important over the last year. 

JD Williams has now hired Amanda Holden and Davina McCall to be the new faces of the brand – as it looks to raise its own brand awareness. Parent company N Brown is focusing strong on JD Williams and its four other ‘strategic brands’ as it targets growth. 

In today’s guest comment, Pini Mandel of Quicklizard argues that sellers must now use more sophisticated strategies as competition increases and shoppers are more savvy.

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