Joules’ high online penetration and casualwear focus protects it from the worst of COVID-19

Following today’s release of Joules FY figures for 2019/20, Emily Salter, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, comments:

“After an unusually muted H1 and troubled Christmas trading period for lifestyle brand Joules, it was denied a chance to bounce back as the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak significantly impacted its main markets (the UK, Germany and the US). Joules is more protected from the effects of prolonged store closures by its high online penetration, with online sales through its own channels increasing by over 11% in FY2019/20 and online demand from the start of lockdown to the end of the period being over 40% higher than the comparable period last year. Although this will have been aided by discounting, it proves the strength of Joules’ brand identity.

“The retailer has taken steps to reduce costs and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 as it fell to a loss during FY2019/20, including reducing its autumn/winter 2020 inventory commitments and ensuring it has flexibility in its spring/summer 2021 stock, enabling it to adapt to changing consumer demand in an unpredictable environment. Joules will also carry some of its current spring/ summer stock forward to future seasons as its focus on lifestyle products as opposed to trend-led items means its range has more longevity, reducing the need to heavily discount to get rid of products, protecting its brand image. The retailer’s focus on casualwear will also have helped it to drive strong online sales as its products are still in demand, unlike workwear and occasionwear.

“Joules has now reopened all of its stores, with overall performance ahead of expectations as its strong brand identity has tempted shoppers back to stores. It will also have benefited from a significant number of its stores being on high streets, with shoppers more likely to be willing to return to these locations rather than enclosed shopping centres. Despite cutting costs, the retailer is right to invest in a modernisation programme of its UK distribution centre to increase warehouse capacity which will enable Joules to capitalise upon the accelerating shift of spend to online.”

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