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EDITORIAL The Works and the BRC on how shoppers are buying now; plus RetailX Top1000 Europe 2022 launches

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Today’s InternetRetailing newsletter comes alongside more reports of falling online sales – compared to last year – while store sales are rising as customers return in-store. 

The Works says that its online sales were down by more than a quarter, year-on-year, in the opening months of its financial year, on last year, while store sales rose. Partly, that was the result of a cyber security incident in March, and the retailer reports that it saw an upturn in July. The overall result, however, was falling first quarter sales. Significantly, however, its ecommerce sales for the quarter were 40% higher than in pre-pandemic 2019. 

The latest retail sales figures from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG show a similar picture, with overall sales seeing an upturn in July – but falling online while growing in-store. However, the report still shows 39.5% of non-food retail sales taking place online. And In Friday’s newsletter, Next reported sales falling online while growing in-store.

It may be tempting to assume that sales are shifting back to stores for good, but the figures show that shoppers are still spending more online than they did before the pandemic. Last year, shoppers were slowly returning in-store with many still cautious on health grounds and continuing to do more of their shopping online. This year, it seems to us that effect is being unwound to an extent. The data suggests both that more shoppers are still buying online than before the pandemic, and that shops have an important role to play. Multichannel services, therefore, will still be important in way that they connect online and the store. 

Certainly, leading retailers are still investing for a world in which more people buy online for a convenience that is made easier services delivered from stores. Asda is looking to give shoppers around the country access to faster online grocery delivery through a tie up with Deliveroo that the two aim to take to 300 shops by the end of the year.

Joules and Next are in discussions about whether the lifestyle and fashion retailer will move to Next’s Total Platform services. The deal may be accompanied by Next investing around £15m in Joules in exchange for an equity stake. This is in line with Next’s strategy of becoming an online platform for a range of brands, while also offering multichannel services on their behalf. Next has previously invested in Gap’s UK franchise in a similar manner and later this week will relaunch the Gap UK website on its own platform, while offering multichannel services via its own shops.

How multichannel and ecommerce retailers are selling in a post-pandemic Europe is explored in the 2022 RetailX Top1000 Europe report, which launches today and names the leading retailers in European ecommerce and multichannel retail – including the five Elite retailers and brands that top the list. The report, published in association with Tealium, goes on to to analyse the way that these leading businesses sell across 32 European markets – those of the EEA and EU plus the UK and Switzerland.

We also report as online retailer Amazon has bought iRobot, the developer of the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner in a move that expands its Amazon Devices business. And in today’s guest comment, Ben Scherpenbergs of PFS considers how retailers and brands can make the most of summer sporting events.

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