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Wickes, Dunelm, Gear4music and more on selling in a challenging market; how retailers are taking steps towards sustainability

Sustainability remains a priority even in challenging times. Image: AdobeStock

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we’re reporting as shoppers are slowing their spending across sales channels – although buying more online in September than in August.  The latest ONS sales figures suggest that ecommerce may now be settling at around a 26% share of UK retail spending. That’s higher than before the pandemic, but is well down on pandemic peaks. Homewares were the only category that showed no online growth in the month. 

That’s the environment in which Wickes says it is seeing sales grow, largely thanks to a backlog of do-it-for-me orders while core sales are flat. But new DIFM orders have slowed as confidence fades. The retailer is concerned about retail inflation – and in particular the prospect of an energy bill that could be millions higher than last year if costs remain at the current level of the business energy price cap – which is currently expected to end in April. Nonetheless it is continuing to invest, both in faster click and collect and in new stores. 

Dunelm, meanwhile, has reported an 8% fall in sales compared to last year – although the figure is also 36% up on the same time three years ago. A third of the homewares retailer’s sales are now online, through services including click and collect, home delivery and orders placed via in-store tablets. It says its focus on value is helping to to trade through a challenging environment. 

Meanwhile, Gear4music has reported an uplift in first-half sales as it feels the benefit of opening two European warehouses to combat post-Brexit shipping challenges. Its European sales grew by 10% during the period, after it opened warehouses in Ireland and Spain. UK sales fell by 3% at the same time. 

Sustainability remains high on shoppers – and retailers’ – agendas. We report on the latest steps that retailers from Zara to Tesco, Morrisons and more are taking to reduce emissions in their businesses.

In today’s guest comment, Marina Vassilopoulos of Cloud9 Fulfilment offers a retailer’s guide to preparing for delivery surges over Black Friday. 

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