In today’s newsletter, we’re reporting as Top500 retailers show how they’ve approached the challenge of Covid-19. All have different angles on the pandemic and have responded accordingly. Essential retailer Morrisons continued to trade throughout, while putting social distancing measures in place and now reports a 5.7% first quarter rise in sales that will have come at considerable cost as it has more than doubled its online delivery capacity, while also expanding click and collect and introducing new services. It’s taken on more than 25,000 people and not furloughed anyone.
B&Q and Screwfix, both also essential retailers, closed initially before then opening for contactless click and collect deliveries. B&Q has since opened all its shops with social distancing measures in place. It has seen a sharp drop in sales followed by a recovery. Overall, its second quarter sales were down by 24%, including a similar drop in the UK – but Screwfix is among the parts of the business that were relatively less affected. Both Morrisons and B&Q detail how they have adapted their shops to be Covid-19 secure.
Meanwhile, as we report in today’s coronavirus round-up story, non-essential retailer Moss Bros temporarily closed most of its business when the pandemic broke out, putting many of its staff on furlough. It’s only now starting to reopen the business - but says it remains debt free and with the resources to trade well into next year. It will be starting to look at how essential retailers have been responding, since it is planning to open its shops when it is permitted. In that story we also have the latest from AO.com, Land Securities, Nielsen, and more.
Other non-essential retailers will also be looking to how retailers such as Morrisons and B&Q have adapted their stores, since this week the government said non-essential retailers would be able to start reopening their shops from June 1, as long as the infection rate is under control.
It’s not overstating the issue to say that getting this right is a matter of life and death. ONS figures this week suggest deaths among customer-facing retail staff from coronavirus have taken place at an above average rate. Boris Johnson yesterday suggested creating Covid 19 security was about change that could well be for the long-term; as the UK learns to live with the Covid-19 coronavirus it’s important that’s done safely. Government guidance on how retailers can do that is summarised and linked to here.
We have fresh insights into how shoppers are responding, with the latest RetailX Coronavirus Consumer Sentiment Tracker. It suggests that four in 10 consumers say they’ll continue to shop as they do now, post-lockdown. If that stays true that would mean many reducing or stopping their in-store visits.
In today’s guest comment, Joe Farrell of PFS considers how retailers can look to a new breed of hybrid stores as they adapt to the new world order. And we also report as JD Sports says it is considering appealing against the CMA’s decision to force it to sell Footasylum.