This week’s trading updates are likely to be strong for the UK’s online retailers – and very bad for bricks-and-mortar stores

Coronavirus was without doubt the Grinch that stole Christmas, and this week will bring an avalanche of trading figures revealing how well the UK’s retailers navigated what the chief executive of Marks & Spencer calls “near-impossible trading conditions”.

The scene was set last week by updates from supermarkets Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, which, like other “essential” retailers, have prospered in locked-down Britain. For poor old non-essential retailers such as M&S, where clothing sales dropped by a quarter, the numbers in its Christmas trading statement showed that without your stores open you needed a damn good website – such as Next’s, which helped the company almost match its 2019 sales.

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