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EDITORIAL What Mothercare’s travails say about UK retail

Image: InternetRetailing Media/Paul Skeldon

Mothercare today shares revealing insights, offered in its full-year results statement today, into what happened behind the scenes when its transformation plans collided with a slowdown in consumer spending over the last year. It’s a picture of nervous suppliers and a lack of investment while it closed 30% of its stores through a CVA approach that’s been more common on the high street over the last year or so. Now, it says, it’s at the end of the pain, with fresh plans to invest in staff, online – and especially mobile – and in bringing customers into its stores. 

It’s a story that reflects not only Mothercare’s own woes, but also the wider pain being felt across  the high street as retailers struggle to adapt to changing customer behaviour. Those customers are now more willing to buy online, and want to spend less time in stores – while at the same time finding stores highly useful to touch and feel, collect and return. Adapting has been a struggle for all concerned. But Mothercare’s story also offers hope for what lies beyond the transformation. We’ll be watching with interest to find out what happens next.

We report as the ONS says online retail sales were up in April, compared to a year ago, but down compared to March 2019. But on either comparison, ecommerce clothing sales have had a boost. That, perhaps, will be a consolation for the many fashion retailers that are going through the same process as Mothercare. 

We report on what’s changed following the introduction of GDPR regulations a year ago. From our European coverage, we share news on how French brands CDiscount and Franprix are moving closer together, both online and offline, and on how Spanish department store El Corte Ingles is using a 3D online experience in selling. 

Today’s guest comment comes from Anne de Kerckhove of Freespee on why perfecting the skill of complaint handling is the key to happy customers. 

Image: InternetRetailing Media/Paul Skeldon

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