Primark is to launch a new customer-facing website next year. Although the website will still stop short of enabling shoppers to buy online. Through the new website, shoppers will be able to see more of its range online and check availability by store. Primark is also investing further in its digital marketing capability in order to deliver more personalised content to customers.
The retailer says digital has a “critical role to play” in its marketing. The “market-leading digital platform” supports the new website. The news comes as parent company Associated British Foods says Primark sales have been record-breaking since its stores reopened from the third lockdown.
Confidence and willingness to spend by customers
The retailer’s store-only business could not trade at all during lockdowns . Moreover, its UK business, for example, was fully open for only seven of the sixteen weeks of its third quarter. During that third quarter its wider retail business turned over £1.6 billion. That is 207% ahead of the same time last year. This excludes currency fluctuations, because a year earlier stores were closed for an average of twelve weeks in the first lockdown.
This quarter sales in the reopened stores were ahead of expectation in all markets. In addition, a number of new sales records were set. Moreover, the like-for-like performance was much improved on earlier periods during COVID-19. This reflects an increase in both confidence and willingness to spend by their customers.
Volatility remains high
Primark’s like-for-like sales were 3% up on a two-year basis in the quarter. However, volatility remains high and performance varied by region depending on the degree of restrictions related to COVID-19.
The company says that data for the total UK clothing market, including online sales, shows that both Primark and online sales gained market share. This was over the seven weeks since its stores in the market reopened.
“The relevance and appeal of our value-for-money offering has been evidenced by the number of customers that have returned to shop in person in our stores, across every one of our markets, each time we have reopened post-lockdown,” ABF says. “This reopening has also seen a resurgence in demand for fashion across womenswear and menswear, as customers start to step out of lockdown leisurewear.”