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Your online shopping habits are helping luxury labels smile

Brands like Kohl’s and Ralph Lauren are able to make sales amid the pandemic thanks to consumers in the Asia-Pacific region

Online sales have helped fashion and beauty labels sail through the pandemic. (Unsplash)

Kohl’s Corp.’s sales fell in the past quarter as the pandemic continues to roil the retail world, but chief executive officer Michelle Gass sees plenty of reason for optimism.

The retail chain’s digital revenue remains elevated and profitability is improving, Gass said, reports Bloomberg. And while the company’s preliminary fourth-quarter results showed an 11% decline in same-store sales and 10% drop in total revenue, the performance was better than it was during the height of the pandemic.

“While sales are still down we’re seeing sequential improvement from the last few quarters amidst the pandemic,” she said, as quoted in the Bloomberg report. “In a time like this where there’s so much volatility with the consumer, it’s how the organization has been managing the business.”

The results highlight the challenges of operating retail stores in the pandemic. After a difficult 2020 marked by broad economic shutdowns, retailers were showing signs of recovery just as covid-19 outbreaks flared up again in recent months.

Companies like Kohl’s relied on socially distanced sales methods, such as online orders and curbside pickup, to carry them through the crucial holiday season. The pickup in digital sales has also led to higher shipping costs. Gass said that’s likely to continue, though the department-store chain has initiatives in place to help offset those headwinds.

According to Bloomberg, during the holidays, Kohl’s shoppers gravitated to the items that have proven popular throughout the pandemic, including active and home products. Its beauty unit, which will expand further in the fall with the opening of Sephora shop-in-shops, had a strong performance during the fourth quarter, Gass said.

“I feel like we’re really set up as we head into 2021,” she said. “We’re all looking forward to the day when there’s a greater degree of normalcy.”

Meanwhile, according to a Reuters report, Ralph Lauren Corp. forecast a bigger-than-expected drop in fourth-quarter revenue, as the high-end apparel maker contends with new lockdowns in its major markets of Europe and Japan.

The New York-based designer said it expects fourth-quarter fiscal 2021 revenue to fall by mid-to-high single digits, while analysts were expecting a 2.9% drop, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The Reuters report mentions Asia was a bright spot for Ralph Lauren in the third quarter. Mainland China sales surged more than 40%.

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