ScS benefited from pent-up demand over the summer as customers invested in their homes following the Covid-19 lockdown – but says the autumn remains hard to predict.
Over the summer, it said in a trading update today, it saw a sharp rise in orders placed both in-store and online after its shops reopened from lockdown. Between May 24 and July 25, as previously reported, orders were 92.2% ahead of the same time last year – having fallen by 92.5% in the nine weeks that its shops closed during lockdown. In the six weeks to September 5, orders remained buoyant as they rose by 51% – delivering an extra £19m in revenue. That, said ScS, “significantly exceeded” expectations, and it was “encouraged” by recent trading.
But, says the sofa retailer, which is ranked Top500 in RXUK Top500 research, its “key” autumn trading period lies ahead, and this is more difficult to predict. Economic uncertainty is likely to rise as a result of factors including the ending of government pandemic support schemes. It said: “The group is well positioned, with our value-led proposition being underpinned by a strong balance sheet.”
Last autumn, marked by political uncertainty around the Brexit trade deal and a general election, was also a challenging one for ScS, which only saw orders start to improve from late January 2020 . When it reported half-year figures, in March, ScS emphasised the way it had centralised its retail administrators and customer service team with the support of a new centralised nYwhere sales app that, it says, gives shoppers support from a larger team and more consistent service.
ScS currently operates through 100 shops in the UK and online, where it sells both upholstered furniture and carpets.