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More postal strikes threaten online spend

Consumers are set to shy away from shopping online and by mail order in the crucial festive period if the postal strikes continue.

An ICM poll of 2,000 consumers commissioned by Drapers’ sister title  Retail Week found that 50% of those questioned would shop less online and by mail order in the run-up to Christmas. 40% of those polled said they were either not very or not at all confident about shopping online or from catalogues currently.

As Drapers went to press, a second national postal strike was due to hit and fears mounted that more could be planned for November.

Earlier this month, retail research group IMRG Capgemini attributed record low etail sales growth in September in part to the strikes.

Retailers including John Lewis, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Shop Direct Group and N Brown have flagged to customers on their sites that it is business as usual in a bid to buoy consumer confidence.

John Lewis Direct managing director Robin Terrell said: “Unfortunately, we know this can have an impact on customer confidence.”

However, Terrell said sales at John Lewis Direct had not been impacted as yet. He added that John Lewis had experienced a “small uptick” in click and collect.

One retailer called on retailers to do more to tell customers that deliveries would be unaffected.

He said: “The customer thinks that if Royal Mail is not operating we cannot deliver, when in fact we can. They think that Royal Mail is more important than it is.”

However, he added that uncertainty over the strikes meant retailers could not plan efficiently.

If the strikes are still going on by the end of November then retailers could find themselves in a “serious situation”, he added.

Debenhams revamp

Department store Debenhams is to relaunch its website in early November. The retailer, which revealed that like-for-likes dropped 3.6% in the year to August 29, will redesign the site.

Multi-channel sales at Debenhams Direct rose 31% to £55.1m during the year.

Debenhams said the site would compete with Marks & Spencer and John Lewis with shoppers able to buy multiple sizes and colours at once.

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