Next’s brand in healthy shape as stores reopen

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
July 17, 2020, 3:58 PM UTC

While many high-street giants are suffering in the aftermath of lockdown, Next is seeing increased satisfaction among customers

The coronavirus outbreak has dealt a big blow to Britain’s already struggling high streets, with John Lewis and Boots among the latest brands to announce store closures.

Next, which gradually started reopening stores from June 15th last month, has also suffered, warning that it may face losses of £150m from lockdown – a stark contrast to its £600m profits last year. But with stores open again, its brand metrics show there’s room for optimism.

Overall, satisfaction among Next customers has been rising in recent months after a dip around the start of lockdown.

Next’s satisfaction score, a figure calculated by subracting negative feedback from positive, dipped to 80 in the first week of lockdown on March 30th. But it steadily improved in the following months to 90 on June 15th when the retailer started reopening stores in England.

And despite a flurry of complaints about the website breaking down in the first week of July, prompting Next to issue to £10 voucers to disappointed customers, satisfaction scores continued to rise. They peaked at 96 on July 5th, meaning nearly all feedback was positive.

Huge clearance sales with discounts of up to 70% to shift leftover stock also prompted a significant jump in Next’s value for money score, rising to 75 on June 28th – up from 54 on April 26th.

Next increasingly the number one choice among its customers

Next ranks second-highest among high street fashion retailers in terms of purchase intent, meaning customers say this is brand they are most likely to buy from.

In fact, the retailer is performing better this year despite stores closing during lockdown and Next shutting down its webshop temporarily at the end of March.

While purchase intent was down among Next customers year-on-year in March, it has since risen well above 2019 levels.

On June 15th, when Next started reopening stores, nearly three in five customers (57%) said the retailer was their most likely choice when making a purchase – up from half (50%) the year before. Purchase intent among Next customers peaked at 60% on 1 July, 13 points higher than a year earlier.

Consideration among all consumers taken a hit but is recovering 

Consideration of Next, meaning what percentage of consumers say they would consider purchasing from the brand, was up year-on-year in the last weeks before lockdown. Two in five Brits (39%) said they would consider buying from Next on March 14th, up from 35% a year earlier.

But when lockdown started, consideration fell to 27% on March 25th – down by 5 points year-on-year. It since gradually recovered, rising to 35% on April 14th when Next partially reopened its online shop. When physical stores started reopening in England on June 15th, a third of Brits (33%) said they’d consider buying from Next.

Overall, consideration has been slightly below 2019 levels in the past months. But with changing rooms closed, limits on store capacity and two in five people (42%) still feeling uncomfortable with doing non-essential shopping in public, it is the best result Next could hope for.