Inditex, the parent company of Zara, Bershka, Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear, has seen profits return to the black for the past quarter, despite bricks and mortar sales continuing to plummet.
The Spanish group saw high street sales fall 31% across the three months to 31 July, despite 98% of its store footprint now open.
A swing of 74% in online sales across the six months ending at the same point compared to last year helped push the group to a €214 million (£197 million) net profit.
However, even online sales are slowing, the group warns, with store and online sales falling 11% between 1 August to 6 September against the same period last year.
Pablo Isla, executive chairman of Inditex told investors that trading in the current quarter has seen a “progressive return to normality”, with online sales continuing to grow sharply and store sales gradually recovering.
Isla also stressed that “the recovery and strong performance are due to the hard work, engagement and creativity of everyone in Inditex.
He said: “I am particularly pleased with our online sales growth, which demonstrates the critical importance of our integrated store and online platform strategy. This is a cornerstone of our unique business model with three key pillars flexibility, digital integration and sustainability. Day by day this combination is proving its solidness."
Inditex’s experience of online making up for falling store sales is part of a growing trend that has been identified and quantified by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR). It finds that half of retailers adopting a unified commerce or omnichannel approach saw their total number of transactions remain consistent during the pandemic – meaning that the reduction in sales volumes from stores was offset by online channels.