Primark is getting closer to ecommerce with the rollout of a click-and-collect service set for later this year, amid a wider ambition to “transform” its digital capability.
The click-and-collect trial of childrenswear will take place in up to 25 stores in the northwest, providing what Primark describes as a representative sample of store sizes and formats across its UK estate.
The retailer believes the click-and-collect childrenswear service has the potential to satisfy “unfulfilled demand”, driving footfall from both existing and new customers to deliver incremental sales in store. Orders will be free to collect and returns will be accepted free of charge in store.
The aim is to grow the click-and-collect offering to 2,000 options across children’s clothing, accessories and lifestyle products. Around 40% of these options will be exclusive to click-and-collect.
Primark believes the expansion of the children’s offering will be attractive to customers who shop at its average size stores, which only stock a limited range. For these customers, Primark anticipates the options of children’s products will broadly double through click-and-collect.
The trial comes as the retailer has seen “positive customer reaction” to the launch of its new UK website in April, which showcases products and offers stock availability by store. Traffic to the site is up around 60%, with customers on average viewing twice as many pages per session. Currently, around 15% of visitors to the site are using the stock checker facility.
Last year Primark said digital would play a “critical role” in it marketing mix going forward as it looks to strengthen its online presence. The retailer outlined plans to boost its digital marketing capability and said it planned to deliver “more personalised content” to customers.
As Primark plots its digital transformation, sales are soaring. In the third quarter to 28 May, sales hit £1.73bn, up 81% on 2021 levels. On a year-to-date basis, sales are up 69% to £5.27bn. Furthermore, sales in the third quarter are 4% higher than the comparable period pre-Covid.
The retailer’s share of the UK clothing, footwear and accessories market by value, comprising online and offline, for the 12 weeks ending 1 May is broadly in line with the comparable period three years ago.
In the UK and Republic of Ireland like-for-like sales have “improved markedly”, although progress is slower in Continental Europe as Covid restrictions have been removed. Primark says it remains on track to deliver a full year adjusted operating profit margin of 10%.
Footfall to destination city centre stores has improved, aided by the “marked return” of tourism and higher levels of office working. Brightly coloured spring/summer women’s fashion ranges have been “well received”, while sales of luggage and holiday essentials strengthened over the quarter.
Licensed product has reportedly been in “great demand”. Primark’s Lilo & Stitch tie-up with Disney has become a top performing range, while its Stranger Things collection is receiving an “exceptionally strong customer response”, it says.
Primark has increased its retail selling space by 0.3 million sq ft since the beginning of the financial year and by the end of the third quarter was trading from 403 stores. Five further stores are expected to open before the financial year end, the ambition being for Primark to grow its store estate to 530 stores by the end of the 2026 financial year.