February’s retail spending figures already seem to reflect ancient history, given the pace with which things have moved since then. What the ONS figures do very effectively, however, is to show the ‘before’ coronavirus picture. They clearly show how small a proportion of grocery spending took place online as recently as February – a small base from which supermarkets are already expanding as quickly as they can by taking on extra warehouse and store staff.
A more up-to-date picture comes from the latest edition of RetailX research into how shoppers are now buying, two weeks into coronavirus. Shoppers are now less likely to go into shops to buy – with 87% saying they they have either stopped going into shops (27%) or are going into shops less than they did. But, the figures suggest, that hasn’t translated directly into shoppers buying more online instead. Many are shopping online just as much as they have previously, but while some say they are buying more, others have reduced or stopped buying altogether. Added to that there’s the complexity that some say they can’t shop online when they would like to because websites are busy. Find out more in our full coverage.
We also get a professional opinion from Andy Burton of Tryzens in today’s guest comment slot, on how he sees coronavirus affecting retail.
We cover the Covid-19 pandemic as it emerges through our latest rolling report covering retailer and delivery responses to the crisis alongside the latest analysis. We report in more detail as Dixons Carphone says it’s seeing shoppers buy more technology to work, live and be entertained at home, although gains here are counterbalanced by a drop in its mobile sales.
We also report as Next, River Island, TK Maxx and Games Workshop decide to close not only their stores – as now required by the Government – but also their online operations. We look at why, and at how analysts see this developing.