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EDITORIAL What the latest data might tell us about how shoppers now want to buy

Image: Wayhome Studio/Shutterstock

How do shoppers now want to buy? That’s the question being asked as the latest retail sales figures show shoppers continuing to return to store whilst also spending less online – but also cutting back on their overall spending. Retail sales across channels are higher than a year earlier, the latest BRC figures suggest, but much of that is because of inflation. While in-store sales continue to grow compared with last year, the rate of growth is now falling below the longer-term trend. Online sales are also falling, albeit more slowly than last year. One particularly concerning figure, from etail trade association the IMRG, suggests that shoppers reduced their ecommerce spending sharply in January compared to a December in which they also cut back on spending online. 

The question is asked in a week that Yours Clothing owner AK Retail bought the M&Co website, with the knock-on effect that M&Co’s 170 stores will close as stock is cleared. 

We have some clues as to how shoppers want to buy in two stories today that track the way that shoppers are spending. THG Beauty has looked to its data to find shoppers are searching for and buying haircare products. These, it says, are becoming popular affordable buys in challenging times, and perhaps superseding the ‘lipstick effect’ as a result. Meanwhile, John Lewis has also noticed some unusual behaviour on its website – with an unseasonal interest in chino shorts. 

And NTT Data suggests that shoppers are keen to return to stores to buy – especially when it comes to buying clothes – after several years in which they were discouraged from doing so during and in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its analysis suggests, expectations of the in-store experience have been raised by that time spent shopping online – while retailers that learned more about their customers by selling direct to them may also benefit from the data insights that technology can offer when it brings together the online and in-store experience.

Today, we also report as Asos uses marketplace technology to expand its ‘partner fulfils’ programme. Through a new partnership with Mirakl the fast fashion retailer aims to add to the more than the 23 brands that are already fulfilling Asos orders directly, including some in Europe. 

Today’s guest comment comes from Eyal Elazar of Riskified, who sets out how retailers can anticipate risks around policy abuse – when customers break their terms and conditions – such as in relation to returns. 

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