Will April 12th store opening dent online and catalogue sales?

With all non-essential retail outlets in England re-opening from April 12, what will that mean for DTC retailers? Is it going to take demand away from them?


here are mixed views on this. On the one hand the ability to go out, mix and mingle whilst shopping for fashion and

beauty products is going to attract swathes of millennials who have sorely missed their high street and social jaunts. These destinations along with hair and nail salons, outdoor bars, restaurants, and gyms are preparing to open to what they hope will be healthy sustainable levels of footfall. News that Debenhams is to run some final fire sales in certain of its stores will likely attract crowds, as will Primark stores, which - having not offered an online option - will be expecting customers to return in droves for low cost family clothing.

But what about the more mature customer in all of this ? The view of many is that this older age group will be more likely to wait until the fuss dies down, and carefully choose the times of day that they shop in person with care. Not feeling comfortable in crowds, despite most having received their initial dose of a Covid vaccine, they also feel side lined by retail chains which no longer appear to cater for their needs. It is the distinct lack of appeal of retail offerings for this large group of customers that will virtually guarantee that the catalogue and online retailers who focus on the mature market will maintain their growth.

Eric Hazan, senior partner, McKinsey & Company commented: “The reopening of stores on April 12 could act as a trigger for a 2021 spending splurge. Despite decreased household income and increased savings, forty-seven per cent of consumers intend to splurge in 2021 to reward themselves. Whilst the reopening of stores could act as a catalyst for the expected spend, retailers should be mindful that


the digital shift is here to stay. 92 per cent of UK consumers (of those that currently spend online) intend to continue purchasing online post COVID-19. So, now the growth opportunities for retailers are really defined by them identifying and meeting the new online and in-store expectations.”

There is certainly pent up demand across most merchandise categories and many retailers targeting the younger customers are hoping for a sharp uptick in sales one their stores re-open. However, the pandemic has had a major impact on the financial wellbeing of younger people as many will have been long-term furloughed or lost their jobs. They may flock to the stores, but will they be in a position to buy at the levels retailers are forecasting? Some think it doubtful.

Whilst it is true that many consumers have put off making major purchases for some considerable time, it is also the case that many will have taken stock of their personal finances during the pandemic and realised that they do not need to buy anywhere near as much as they have in the past. Whilst nowhere near as extreme as the post war ‘make do & mend’ behaviours that cast shadows in the late 1940s-1950s, some believe that the lessons learned during the pandemic will stick.

But as more people return to workplaces or migrate to a blend of home and office working, there will undoubtedly be greater demand for smarter attire. It is also to be expected that people will crave opportunities to dress up and socialise which will also act as a driver for fashion sales.

Direct Commerce |

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