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From Shoe Zone and Hobbycraft to AO on how retail is adapting as shoppers return in-store to buy

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In a bumper InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as the latest sales figures suggest that shoppers spent more over Christmas, returning in-store but spending less online. That’s in part a longer-term unwinding of the sharper shift online that was forced by pandemic trading restrictions, but one that has likely been exacerbated by temporary factors such as the postal strikes. The BRC sees a 3% fall in online sales in December, while an in-store lift means that overall sales volumes have increased, although the effect of inflation means that although shoppers are spending more they are also buying fewer goods than last year. IMRG figures, however, suggest the fall was still larger than that  – both in December and in 2022 as a whole. 

That pattern is reflected in the sales figures that retailers are reporting today. Multichannel retailers are seeing a rise in revenues as shoppers return in-store, often attracted there by the multichannel services they now offer. Hobbycraft, for example, is seeing shoppers return to its shops both to buy and to collect their online orders, as well as for events such as in-store workshops – all helping it to boost its Christmas sales. And Shoe Zone, which today reports a rise in full-year sales and profits, has seen most of the 11% of online orders that are returned taken back to stores.

Games Workshop has seen customers return to its stores while also engaging with it online, and The Fragrance Shop says its omnichannel strategy has helped it to rack up record sales over the Christmas period.

But as two years of online growth partly unwind as stores trade as normal once more, online retailers are refining their strategies. Pureplay AO, which has seen sales fall by 17% in the third quarter of its financial year, is now taking a sharp focus on cash and profits. That has meant closing unprofitable arms of its business including its German website – and it’s a strategy that seems to be paying off as it raises its profit forecast for the year. 

Elsewhere, Amazon is consulting staff on plans to close three fulfilment centres this year, potentially affecting 1,200 people. The retailer says it will also create 2,500 new jobs at two new fulfilment centres over the next three years. 

And we report on what the latest Capgemini research says about how people are reacting to the cost of living crisis, with a majority of shoppers concerned about their financial situation. 

In today’s predictions we look at what industry members say about what shoppers will want from retailers over a year that looks set to be marked by economic uncertainty

In today’s guest comment, Harriet Durnford-Smith of Adverity asks how retailers can keep up as responsible marketing evolves. 

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