Among the first to act is M&S, which has reduced all marketing spend, following the realization that shoppers won’t be flocking through its doors anytime soon. M&S has opted to wipe out spring clothing ranges as self-isolating shoppers keep their distance from stores.
Warning that trading over the next 12 months will be ‘severely impacted’, the store is already undertaking contingency planning which may see some stores ‘close temporarily’.
Outlining some of the immediate steps being taken the retailer stated: “We are reducing non-essential spending at all levels, freezing non-essential recruitment and reducing marketing spend.”
Fellow High Street staple Next has also warned of a ‘very significant drop in sales’ but has adopted a more bullish stance, telling Marketing Week that it will not be curtailing planned marketing investment.
Next believes the crisis could provide an opportunity to accelerate migration to online systems while it has the cash resources to weather a £1bn hit to sales over the year.
Chief executive Simon Wolfson said: “Our buying, sourcing, systems, marketing, warehouse, distribution and store teams are all having to re‐invent what we do to adapt to a rapidly changing world.
“It is the delivery of new product ranges, web systems, fulfilment methods, marketing techniques, warehouse capacity, business ideas, partnerships and more that will determine our longer term destiny.”
Elsewhere, fashion retailer Joules has warned that a decline in footfall has ‘significantly accelerated’ with online sales also taking a hit, albeit to a lesser extent as people become far more cautious with their money.
While sales go into free fall some retailers are looking to redefine themselves, with John Lewis placing themselves front and center of people’s self-isolation plans, by immersing themselves in community projects.
Ultimately, however, many in the sector are faced with no option but to close stores with Primark, Nike, and Urban Outfitters all temporarily shutting up shop in the hardest-hit locations.
The one bright spot in all this is online platforms, as hunkered down shoppers opt for more home deliveries.