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The state of retail as restrictions ease – Econsultancy

The easing of lockdown restrictions means that the majority of retail stores are re-opening again, but the coronavirus pandemic has left a lasting impact on the industry.

So, how are retailers faring as we head into the summer? Here’s a look at recent consumer behaviour, and how the retail industry is coping.

Online retailers see strongest ever growth, but there’s more bad news for brick and mortar…

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been catastrophic for some UK retailers. Clothing retailer Quiz announced the permanent closure of all its physical stores (though it will still continue to operate online), while Cath Kidston, Monsoon Accessorize, and Go Outdoors also announced that they were going into administration.

Global fashion retailers have also been hit, with Inditex (the owner of Zara) announcing the shuttering of up to 1,200 global retail stores. Fortunately, Inditex has seen surging online sales at the same time, which were up 95% year-on-year in April. Overall demand for online retail looks to also be the reason behind Boohoo’s decision to buy the online businesses of Oasis and Warehouse, which went into administration in April.

Fashion retail aside, even technology giants like Microsoft have also been affected by the lockdown. Microsoft has announced that it won’t be reopening any of the stores it closed just before the pandemic, only that it will turn certain locations in London, New York, and Sydney into ‘experience centers’.

Across the board, online retail continues to gain traction. The latest figures from IMRG show that, for the week commencing 14th June, UK online sales surged 41.3% year-on-year, with a 1.8% week-on-week rise.

Even for multichannel retailers, however, it’s not simply the case that if stores can re-open, any residual problems will be solved. Retailers have struggled to pay rent throughout the pandemic; now with consumers still shifting online, and footfall suffering as a result, the continued impact means that many retailers will fall further into debt in the months to come. 

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