4 weeks into lockdown, what’s the latest state of play for the multi-channel retail sector?   

David Lockwood looked at industry online retail sales figures, Tapestry client weekly sales data 13th – 19th April, picked out some key points from the Tapestry briefing discussion on Friday 17th April where 14 brand owners and directors shared their experience and keynotes the week as “preparing for the medium term”.  He says:

  • The demand picture continues to improve across apparel but with significant changes in category interest. Stay at home chic is the order of the day and sales are reflecting that, however the most formal end continues to have a torrid time.
  • Gardening and outdoor shows no sign of slowing with the direct businesses taking some of the demand that would have historically been in more traditional retail.
  • Direct Food and Wine growth continues with many retailers giving long lead times.
  • Gifting continues to improve, especially the more letterbox size gifts.
  • Where many retailers are having issues is in servicing demand. Social distancing in production and warehousing, alongside staff shortages, is resulting in significant processing delays for many. Customers seem generally accepting for now, understanding that retailers are facing unprecedented pressures. 
  • There are significant reports of retailers preparing for the medium term, working out how social distancing can be strictly adhered to while delivering against demand over the next weeks/months. Shift patterns continue to be changed to allow better efficiencies; additional production and warehousing facilities are being seriously investigated. Some are preparing for social distancing in the workplace to be the norm for months rather than weeks.
  • Retailers are also beginning to look closely at how the change in circumstances has changed their customer. Engagement rates amongst existing customers are under the microscope, along with a study of new recruits to determine if these unusual times have changed their make-up and complexion to ensure that messaging both in the short and medium term remains relevant.