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How retailers are discounting online as stores reopen

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Retailers are cutting their prices hard as the non-essential retail sector emerges from lockdown. Clothing, electricals and other non-essential retailers that closed on March 23 were able to reopen from June 15. Figures from Springboard suggest that while footfall rose that week, compared to the previous week, it was still down by more than 50% compared to the same time last year.  IMRG figures today suggest that online sales rose sharply, and particularly at multichannel retailers, even as stores opened. Now a new study from shows how far retailers are discounting online, and we also take a look at how Elite retailers are approaching the sale season. 

How retailers are discounting as shops reopen

Footfall may be down, compared to last year, on the high street, but says that its seeing online demand up by 22% for high street brands, and 19% for their premium counterparts, compared to the same time last year. This comes, it says, after the high street has suffered in recent months with online demand for retailers from Topshop to Zara “in the doldrums”. That’s now starting to change.

“With outdoor life opening up and the promise of trips to the pub and restaurants on the cards come July 4th the British public is on the hunt for summer clothing and the ease of high street staples – summers dresses, shorts and tees,” said Stuart McCluare, founder of “High street brands should take note, online demand is there and needs to be capitalised upon now.”

LovetheSales points to Karen Millen and Coast, now both part of the Boohoo Group, and says they are discounting 100% of their online stock. Coast is also giving the biggest average discount, of -51%. Others that are discounting strongly include Miss Selfridge, with 93% of online stock currently discounted, and French Connection (86%). In menswear, figures suggest that 84% of French Connection clothing is currently online, while TM Lewin is offering the biggest online discount, at 58% off RRP on average, and with 74% of stock discounted.

Tracking searches for luxury brands, LovetheSales found consumers searching for Burberry, with 4.6% of search traffic focused on discounts, followed by Moncler (4.5%) and Kenzo (3.1%. The most searched for discounted items for luxury brands were accessories rather than clothing. “Consumer demand for discounted investment pieces have never been higher,” it said. 

How Elite retailers are discounting online

InternetRetailing took a look at how the Elite retailers, as defined in RXUK Top500 research, are approaching discounting, as seen from their home pages.


Amazon is not highlighting sales on its home page, although it does flag up discounts to its range of Alexa voice assistant devices. The retailer sells online only in the UK and appears to have to have been in high demand during the lockdown. The retailers does not have the incentive to discount stock in the same way as multichannel competitors whose stores were closed during lockdown.


Multichannel retailer Argos closed all of its standalone shops during the coronavirus lockdown, although it was able to deliver both through home delivery and through click and collect at branches of its sister supermarket Sainsbury’s. Now the retailer’s online home page features ‘Sale and so much more’. Discounts of up to 50% are available in both its home category and in the Tu clothing range. 


As a homewares retailer Dunelm was able to reopen its shops earlier than non-essential traders. However, initially both its shops and its online deliveries closed during lockdown and only reopened after it ensured that both stores and warehousing could operate safely. Today it is running a summer sale with discounts of up to 50% off.

John Lewis

John Lewis has only been able to open its stores since June 15 and continues to reopen slowly. As of today, 22 of its 50 shops are now open. It is now running its summer clearance event, and is currently offering discounts of up to 70% off fashion and up to 50% of homewares. 

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer continues to run its Rainbow Sale, offering up to 50% off selected lines with 10% of the purchase price going to NHS Charities Together. Time-limited deals currently include up to 25% off school uniform and up to 30% off furniture.


Next closed both its stores and online business in March, reopening online slowly after ensuring its warehouses were safe for staff. It then started to reopen its stores from June 15. Today the retailer’s home page is striking for its lack of sale activity. The business has focused in recent years on moving away from discounting, although it does have a permanent clearance tab on its home page where deals are currently available.

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