Next shuts website as fashion faces sales wipeout
Next has taken the “difficult decision” to close its website as the coronavirus shutdown threatens to wipe more than £11bn off fashion sales this year.
With all high street clothing specialists forced to shut this week, analysts at GlobalData think the amount that Britons will spend on clothes and shoes will tumble by 20% – or £11.1bn – in 2020. That is a fall equivalent to the combined annual clothing sales of the three market leaders Primark, Marks & Spencer and Next.
Amid a growing backlash against retailers who continued to sell online, Next said it had stopped taking online orders “until further notice”. The firm said it had “listened very carefully to its colleagues working in warehousing and distribution operations to fulfil online orders. It is clear that many increasingly feel they should be at home in the current climate.”
Yesterday the high street chain River Island and the luxury fashion retailer Net-A-Porter also said they
were closing their websites. River Island said it would fulfil existing web orders but would not process any new ones as it began closing down its distribution centre in Milton Keynes. Its chief executive, Will Kernan, said it had made some “difficult choices” to protect the health of staff.
High street names including M&S, Primark and Next have already warned of heavy consequences as the UK is forced to stop shopping.
Yesterday the ratings agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) both cut M&S’s investment rating to junk. S&P said Covid-19 related high street restrictions would “materially reduce sales in its clothing and home division” which would only be partially mitigated by online sales and the anticipated resilience of its food halls.