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EDITORIAL What now for stores as high street brands move online?

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as a number of high street businesses from Debenhams to Topman and Miss Selfridges look set to move online, closing down shops that have been a fixture of the high street for decades. Debenhams has been bought by Boohoo, which is set to turn a department store with its roots in the 18th century into an online marketplace to serve 21st century shoppers. Debenhams could well be joined as an online retailer by Arcadia brands including Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridges, which are currently the subject of acquisition talks by Asos (though there is speculation that Topshop could keep a flagship store under that new ownership). Both Debenhams and Arcadia are in administration in part because their multichannel models were too store-heavy to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, with its side-effect of closing all their stores for months on end. In today’s guest comment, Russell Loarridge of ReachFive considers how Arcadia’s brands might survive and prosper under new ownership. 

Quiz says today that its sales have also been hard hit by the pandemic, which has hit retailers with shops and those that sell clothing for more social occasions. It has closed some stores and 20% of its concessions, with more than 100 concessions in branches of Debenhams and Arcadia brand Outfit likely to follow. But the occasionwear and smart casual retailer says it is optimistic for the future and that its shops will be a part of its post-pandemic recovery. That’s partly because of the role they play in its multichannel business. Being able to offer in-store collection and returns will still be important as retail recovers from the pandemic, as will the ability to return to trying on clothes before buying. Being present on the high street still matters for brand awareness as well s for customer convenience. What Quiz has done is work to make its stores more viable by shuttering less profitable shops and renegotiating leases in order to make them more flexible. There are plenty of good reasons for multichannel retailers in a variety of sectors to keep a store presence as a way of retaining both convenience and shopper awareness. 

Today we also report as Waitrose expands its packaging-free pilot in its stores, as Sainsbury’s becomes the fifth grocer to power Whisk deliveries of recipe ingredients, and as Feelunique says it’s on track to turn over £100m in its current financial year. 

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