Don Williams, Retail Partner at KPMG:

“Like-for-like sales growth of 5.2% is an impressive outcome from retailers, especially given the tighter household restrictions in October, but testing times lie ahead.

“The gap between winners and losers is stark with home-related items, like furniture and technology, putting in a strong performance whilst the improvement in fashion sales was short lived. Online sales remain high and are set to grow further during Black Friday and lockdown. Not all retailers are in a position to take advantage of this shift in customer behaviour, which has been accelerated by circumstance and for many is now both choice and habit.  

“The important ‘golden quarter’ is likely to be unrecognisable this year, with some retailers losing a month’s worth of trading opportunity.  Capacity is also likely to be a significant challenge over coming months as there is a limit to online delivery availability and social distancing reducing the numbers of customers that can safely shop in store at any one time. In order to survive, retailers must give serious thought to how consumers will engage in the run-up to Christmas.

“Some retailers will thrive in the new environment, others will find it bleak. The locked in step-up in online activity will undoubtedly lead to further investments in digital capability and partnerships. Digital strategies have never been more vital, but those strategies must be cost efficient too.”


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