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EDITORIAL What Covid-19 means for retailers from Boohoo and WH Smith to Watches of Switzerland

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as retailers including WH Smith and Watches of Switzerland demonstrate how shoppers have turned online to buy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Watches of Switzerland has seen online demand grow fast at a time when locked down shoppers can’t get to its showrooms to buy luxury watches – with some brands now available through its website for the first time. That’s helped it to report sales growth in its latest full year – in the context of the lockdown only affecting the final six weeks of the year. It’s now starting to reopen some of its US shops. 

WH Smith, meanwhile, has seen online sales of books and other products grow quickly, while it’s also been able to keep some high street and hospital shops open. It seems unlikely those sales will go anywhere near to compensating for the current closure of its more profitable travel business, but the retailer is now focused on a gradual reopening of its shops.

Boohoo sees opportunities amid the current crisis and it’s raised almost £200m to help it to profit from those opportunities. A number of retailers have gone into administration since the lockdown started and Boohoo will be hoping to make the most of such events.

And we report as retailers including Marks & Spencer turn to deep discounting in order to clear stock at a time when many stores have been closed as a result of the lockdown and as sales of clothing have fallen.

In today’s guest comment Emile Naus of BearingPoint considers how retailers can fine tune their store strategies to the way their customers are now buying. Finally, we report as uncertainty looms once more on the as yet unresolved UK/EU trade deal. 

Image: Shutterstock

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