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How retailers responded to the COVID-19 crisis

As retailers continue to work through the impacts of this pandemic, transparency through communications and announcements are paramount to preserving customer relations.
How retailers responded to the COVID-19 crisis | EDITED

UPDATE: As retailers ease back into reopening, our daily coverage for this report has stopped. Instead, visit our resources page or continue to check our COVID-19 Retail Dashboard to see the shifts in global trends during this time.


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Friday – June 26th

  • Miss Selfridge promoted outfits ‘too good not to share’ on Instagram
  • boohooMAN dropped new items exclusively on its app
  • Abercrombie & Fitch promoted new swim lines ‘for summer fun – no suitcase required!’

Further Announcements and in the news:

  • Google has announced a support scheme for small UK businesses that will help them become more visible online
  • According to the ONS, 4 in 10 people think their life has changed for the better since the pandemic
  • The US saw a record number of 37,000 new cases reported, causing reopening plans to halt while Germany’s infection rate dropped
  • On the hottest day of the year yesterday, thousands flocked to England’s beaches which lead to experts warning of a potential second spike
  • Tesco reported that shoppers are buying 64% more, as less frequent but larger shops become the norm

Thursday – June 25th

New face masks

  • Reformation announced its donating a mask for every purchase made throughout July
  • Nordstrom outlined its store re-opening plan and what measures its taking to keep its customers safe
  • Free People are giving a free hand sanitizer with any $50 purchase
  • Gap promoted back-to-school uniform ‘from first days back at school to lessons in the living room’
  • Debenhams brought ‘the festival to you this summer’ and promoted summer looks within festival stories such as ‘headline act’

Further Announcements and in the news:

  • Apple closed 14 stores in Florida after a spike in new cases
  • UK September trade shows Pure London, Pure Origin, Scoop and Jacket Required have been canceled and will be replaced with virtual alternatives
  • N Brown reported a 6.1% decline in group revenue
  • The Very Group announced plans to restructure, making 141 head office roles redundant while creating 100 new jobs in its technology division
  • Australia organized 1000 army personnel to carry out mass testing around virus ‘hotspot’ suburbs in Melbourne

Wednesday – June 24th

Live fashion shows to go ahead in September

  • With opportunities to leave home increasing, Matches UK promoted ‘Vacation dressing at home and away’
  • Boden responded to consumer requests and introduced face masks in classic Boden prints. Baukjen, Henri Lloyd, Coach and Scotch & Soda also promoted non-medical face masks
  • Sales remained the key story within promotions, Debenhams and Weekday both reaching up to 70% off and New York & Company 60-92% off clearance
  • Revolve promoted workwear for WFH or the office and Rue La La ‘style for RSVPs to come’ – for those finally getting to celebrate postponed vows and upcoming memorable moments – while Vince Camuto’s email is titled ‘4 wear now, wear later shoes’
  • • Sussan AU celebrated ‘women who inspire us’ and promoted #FirstRespondersDay offering 50% off in-store for first responders

Further Announcements and in the news:

  • The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode has announced that SS21 physical shows will take place in Paris this September alongside a new digital platform
  • UK Footwear trade show Sole had been postponed, most likely until 2021
  • The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that pubs and restaurants in Scotland can reopen on 15th July and beer gardens the 6th
  • Headlines are full of a feared second wave of the virus in the UK, and whether the country is prepared, while the English general public is unhappy to see pubs set to reopen but not gyms
  • Zadig & Voltaire is reportedly in talks with advisory firm RSM about restructuring its UK store portfolio

Tuesday – June 23rd

Sleepwear and Staycation

  • Nobody’s Child announced its online return with its new summer collection, switching #stayhomestyle to ‘full-on, feel-good summer mode.’ Staycation remains a popular theme, with Uterqüe and LIVELY both sending emails
  • Matches reminded customers of both its virtual and in-person personal styling services, ‘to serve your fashion needs now and in the future’
  • With TikTok exploding since lockdown, Topman tapped into the craze promoting its loungewear for those taking part or watching from the sofa
  • Sleepwear featured at Naadam, while Fenwick upgraded its at-home style, promoting its new-in nightwear in line with Wellness week
  • Arc’Teryx announced it would take its Climbing Academy digital. From the 24th – 28th of August, the retailer will celebrate mountain culture through speakers, films and more

Further Announcements and in the news:

  • It’s reported Mulberry will consolidate its UK manufacturing into one factory, resulting in around 135 redundancies
  • Further lockdown measures are being lifted in England from 4th July, with pubs, restaurants and hotels allowed to reopen. The 2m distancing rule will be reduced to 1m, and people will also be allowed to meet another household indoors for the first time since March
  • Fears of a second wave grow in South Korea and Victoria, Australia
  • Disneyland and DisneySea attractions will open in Japan on 1st July
  • Shopping center owner Intu, has appointed KPMG as it prepares for administration

Monday – June 22nd

Face coverings in focus

  • Happy socks announced it’s upcycling surplus fabric to create non-medical grade cotton face masks available from September
  • Rag & Bone sent a dedicated email of new face masks in support of BLM with donations supporting the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
  • With restrictions easing in Australia, Target promoted outdoor and technical pieces in its ‘Adventure ready’ email
  • Matalan promoted its app and encouraged users to use their new like feature, enabling customers to save all their favorite pieces in one place
  • Reiss pushed its face mask in both its men’s and women’s emails, with profits going towards the NHS Charities Together

Further Announcements and in the news:

  • Dior announced it will go ahead with its 2021 Cruise show in Leece, Puglia which will be streamed online on 22nd July
  • While reopened stores in England were met with queues last week, physical retail hasn’t yet rebounded. During the first week of reopening, UK footfall reportedly fell 57.2% YoY (via ShopperTrak)
  • Dwayne Johnson, Miley Cyrus and Shakira, among others, will be appearing on Global Goal: Unite for Our Future – The Concert. The concert airs June 27th
  • The UK prime minister is finalizing plans to reopen pubs, hairdresses, restaurants and hotels next month
  • WHO reported the biggest daily rise in global coronavirus cases on Sunday

Saturday & Sunday – June 20th & 21st

Father’s Day features & heavy discounts

  • Deep markdowns included up to 90% off at Millers and beme, while Loft and Ann Taylor offered up to 80% off. Victoria’s Secret brand Pink made an effort to keep sales stories light and positive with a ‘feel good sale’ accompanied by cartoon graphics
  • Aside from straight discounting, ‘Buy more, save more’ was noted at Boston Proper while at Neiman Marcus, shoppers could earn gift cards dependent on amounts spent
  • Retailers blend online and offline offerings and services as reopening continue – Cue communicated that shoppers could book stylists online or in store
  • • Marine Layer and Burlington profiled staff and families as part of Father’s Day features
  • Trend wise – Nasty Gal told a Cottagecore inspired story, WHBM celebrated International T-Shirt Day and Tibi styled face masks with other products
  • Intermix invited shoppers to ‘stay in touch via text’ and receive 15% off

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