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EDITORIAL Is retail finding a new balance between online and in-store after pandemic lockdowns?

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Online and in-store retail may now be finding a new balance, post-pandemic. Image: Shutterstock
Online and in-store retail may now be finding a new balance, post-pandemic. Image: Shutterstock
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EDITORIAL Is retail finding a new balance between online and in-store after pandemic lockdowns?

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting on how the balance between online and offline appears to be shifting to a new normal as UK pandemic retail lockdowns retreat into the rear view mirror. Ted Baker, for example, today says the shift towards high online sales and low in-store store seen during lockdowns and as shoppers looked to stay cautious started to reverse in the second quarter of its financial year – to an extent. Its store sales are still lower and its online sales are still higher than they were two years ago, suggesting that shoppers are not returning to the pre-pandemic normal and that higher online sales are here to stay.

 

The latest BRC retail sales figures follow a similar pattern, with August ecommerce sales - and share of the overall retail market – lower than in August last year, but higher than in August 2019. At the same time, overall retail sales figures have risen. The implication is that in-store sales are growing but have not recovered to 2019 levels.

 

That certainly seems to be the assumption as retailers plan their store estates. More than 8,700 chain shops closed in the first six months of this year, according to the Local Data Company and PwC – a net decline of 5,251 shops after openings are taken into account. The growth of online has played a significant part in that. That’s literally so, as retailers that previously sold on the high street were acquired as online-only brands by pureplay retailers. In addition, changing customer behaviour has also played a part as retailers have resized their store estates in the light of a higher level of ecommerce sales.

 

At the same time, urban logistics sites are becoming a focus for property developers. One developer, LondonMetric has now bought four sites in the last week that it says are suited to provide local logistics hubs in urban areas. The deals come soon after British Land announced its own £100m+ investment into sites that lend themselves to this purpose.

 

Meanwhile, Tesco is today calling for Apprenticeship Levy reforms that it says could help retailers train more than 8,000 new members of staff in areas including driving, where shortages are currently being felt.

 

In today’s guest comment, Katrina Wong of Twilio Segment considers how to deliver powerful customer experiences for a new digital age.

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