High street fashion retailer H&M to close around 250 stores as it sees shoppers move online

The high street fashion retailer, H&M has confirmed its plans to close down around 250 of its stores across the globe next year, following the surge of consumers moving to online shopping at the hands of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Retail Gazette reports that the Swedish retail giant stated that around one quarter of its more than 5,000 stores worldwide will have the chance to renegotiate or end their leases next year, allowing the company to shut down some stores in the process.

It also stated that it will be investing greater in digital and optimising its store portfolio to ‘react to the rapid changes in consumer behaviour that has resulted from the pandemic.’ This is all emerges as H&M sees sales continue to recover throughout September, yet still remain five per cent lower than the same period last year.

The retailer reported that its pre-tax profits fell to 2.37bn Swedish krona (£210 million) for the nine months to August 31, and that sales during the nine month period were “significantly negatively affected by the Covid-19 situation, particularly in the second quarter when stores were temporarily closed in most markets.”

H&M chief executive, Helena Helmersson has said: “More and more customers started shopping online during the pandemic, and they are making it clear that they value a convenient and inspiring experience in which stores and online interact, and strengthen each other.

“The substantial investments made in recent years have been very important for our recovery, and we are now accelerating our transformation work further to meet customers’ expectations. We are increasing digital investments, accelerating store consolidation and making the channels further integrated.

“To ensure that our offerings are relevant to customers and improve availability in all channels, speed and flexibility will be even more important in the future, particularly in the supply chain.

“Covid-19 has also highlighted the importance of sustainability. Demand for good value, sustainable products is expected to grow in the wake of the pandemic and our customer offering is well positioned for this. Through our work to become circular and climate positive we are increasing the share of sustainable and renewable materials and we are developing new revenue streams.”