Sales shifted online may never return to stores, Dixons Carphone boss warns

Linda J. Dodson

The boss of Dixons Carphone has warned that some sales that have shifted online during the lockdown will never return to bricks and mortar stores, as he prepares to reopen with “extreme care”.

Alex Baldock said that the retailer had been “pleased by the proportion of our store sales which have switched to online, and it’s unrealistic to think those will all return to stores”.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he added: “It won’t be a case of flicking a switch and customers return immediately – reopening will be phased, and confidence will only return gradually.”

Mr Baldock said the retailer will adapt to the permanent shift partly by allowing online customers to chat to real staff working at home or in stores as they reopen.

Dixons Carphone is preparing to join a first wave of “non-essential” retailers resuming operations with social distancing in place in the coming days and weeks. Mr Baldock said the company had developed a blueprint in its Nordic operation, which has remained open throughout the crisis with an array of safety measures to allow “zero contact” shopping. They include protective screens for cashiers, contactless payments and increased cleaning and hygiene

His warning over the permanent migration of sales online comes with Dixons Carphone already retreating from many high streets. Last month it announced the closure of all 531 standalone Carphone Warehouse stores to reflect their diminishing role in the mobile phone market, as smartphones are replaced less frequently and increasingly by buying from telecoms operators directly.

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