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Clothing, sporting goods retailers lose €300m in store sales during crisis

Retailers say that the cost of deliveries and returns erodes the profitability of online sales.

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Image: Sami Takkinen / Yle
Yle News

The coronavirus crisis has gobbled up half of clothing sales at traditional brick and mortar stores in Finland, according to data from the Fashion and Sports Commerce Association.

The lobby group, which represents clothing and sporting goods retailers and wholesalers, said that fashion chains saw sales plummet by 66 percent in April compared to one year earlier. The corresponding loss of clothing sales for fashion markets and department stores was about 40 percent.

Clothing sales had already shrunken by roughly 50 percent in March, according to fresh statistics. By contrast, the situation with regard to sporting goods sales was somewhat more positive: sales in that sector fell by 22 percent in April compared to the same time last year, but this marked a slight recovery from March, when they decreased by 27 percent compared to the previous year.

Online shopping surge not enough

The association estimated that since the beginning of the year, the sector lost more than 300 million euros as a result of slower sales caused by the crisis.

At the same time that customers were shying away from physical shopping, however, they were racking up purchases online. The association said that combined online sales in both areas soared by 120 percent — more than double regular sales figures.

However it noted that the surge in online shopping was not enough to offset losses incurred at traditional outlets. Association chair Velimatti Kankaanpää told news agency STT that the costs associated with deliveries and processing returns make webshops less profitable than in-store sales.

"It [amounts to] 15 percent of sales altogether. During the coronavirus crisis the proportion [of online sales] did rise, but we suspect that regular stores will once more snap up the lion's share once they bounce back," Kankaanpää noted.

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