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How IRUK Top500 retailers are adapting to new retail realities

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We have a bigger than usual newsletter today after a bumper week of updates from retailers across the fashion, DIY and homewares markets. The overall picture they collectively paint is one of traders struggling to adjust as shoppers take their business further online. In the short term, that move online can be put down in part to the snowstorms associated with the Beast from the East, but in the longer term, says fashion retailer Next, this is about a permanent change in customer behaviour. It explains in its figures today what it’s doing to improve its business after what it says has been one of the most challenging years for a quarter century.

Elsewhere, more IRUK Top500 retailers are reflecting on that change. Ted Baker reports expansion and growth that have gone hand-in-hand with a definite move online from customers. Screwfix has reported strong growth as more of its customers buy via mobile and use click-and-collect, but sales at B&Q have fallen as it’s closed stores; Carpetright has said it’s seeking a CVA while it rebalances its store estate, while ScS is reporting strong sales and the growing influence of online sales. Moss Bros is reporting a fall in footfall along with fallout from the devaluation of sterling following Brexit, and profits hit in its current financial year. The theme that runs through all of these stories is one of a retail model that’s being unbalanced by its reliance on stores when the consumer is more interested in buying online.

These are all themes that were addressed at this year’s IRX 2018, where the importance adapting to a new retail reality was under discussion, whether that’s the growing use of mobile, the use of machine-learning to drive automation, the customer’s desire to know exactly where their parcels are, and how retail logistics might adapt to a more sustainable future. We’ll have room in Tuesday’s newsletter to look at these issues in more detail.

Today’s guest comment comes from, who considers how retail apps are set to be an important communication and buying channel in emerging markets.

Find out more about upcoming InternetRetailing webinars and register for free on the InternetRetailing webinar page. You can also catch up with past webinars on the page: recent sessions have come from IBM Watson on using AI to improve the customer experience, and from SmartFocus and The Entertainer on using social to reach digital customers.

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