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H&M Group expands brand websites to new markets as e-commerce offers respite

By FashionUnited

May 13, 2020

H&M Group has announced that it is expanding the websites of its Cos, Weekday, Monki, & Other Stories and Arket brands to nine more European markets in May.

The websites will be launched in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Croatia from 14 May, followed by Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus from 20 May.

It is the latest move in the Swedish retail giant’s global expansion and comes as even more focus is put on digitalisation in an industry whose physical presence has been devastated by international lockdowns.

While H&M Group’s total sales during the period March 1 to May 6 fell by 57 percent, online sales increased by 32 percent. Around 80 percent of the group’s stores have been closed since mid-March.

Below is a chart created by Belén Bednarski for FashionUnited. It compares the e-commerce acceptance of a given country with the impact Covid-19 has had on H&M Group sales across all its brands in that country.

The final column, ‘e-commerce percentage per country’, shows the percentage of the population of a country who made at least one online purchase in 2019, according to figures from the Ecommerce Foundation.

It is interesting to see that in Italy - one of the European countries most heavily impacted by Covid-19 - H&M Group sales decreased by 80 percent during lockdown. In the country, just 48 percent of the population made an online purchase in the past year.

In countries where H&M websites have been active for some time and in which the e-commerce activity of the population is higher, the decline in sales was less severe. In Germany for example, sales fell by 46 percent during lockdown - a country where 83 percent of the population had made online purchases in the past year.

HM Group UK sales take hit

In the UK, however, where e-commerce acceptance is high, there has been a significant drop in sales. The country currently has the highest official death toll in Europe and the second highest in the world. It is also the third biggest market in terms of H&M Group sales, behind only Germany and the US.

Nils Vinge, head of investor relations at H&M Group, told FashionUnited by email: “The corona-situation highlights the customers desire for omni solutions and the importance of integrated channels. We are glad that we are able to provide this in most of our markets. Despite having had more than 80 percent of our stores completely closed we have been able to continue our relationship with our customers during this very difficult time.

“We have welcomed a large number of customers who previously haven’t tried our online offer. We hope that they are pleased with their experience and that they will continue to explore our great fashion. For all the customers who already did shop online before corona, it has been convenient to be able to continue to shop online when their favorite stores have been temporarily closed. This has accelerated the ongoing trends and led to substantial increases of online in all of our markets.”

This article was created with the help of Caitlyn Terra, Huw Hughes and Belén Bednarski

Photo credit: H&M media gallery