The owner of The Athlete’s Foot and Platypus has turned its retail locations into ‘dark stores’ to fulfil a surge in online sales demand

  • Accent Group, the owner of companies including The Athlete’s Foot, Hype DC and Platypus, has seen a massive rise in online sales during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The group shut its stores in March amid the pandemic, with its online websites continuing to operate.
  • Prior to the store closures, the group would make around $250,000 a day. This has jumped to between $800,000 and $1.1 million a day in the last two weeks of April.
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Accent Group, the parent company of retailers Platypus, Hype DC and The Athlete’s Foot, has experienced a huge rise in online sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after the group closed its stores for four weeks amid the pandemic, beginning on March 25, while its 18 websites remained available.

The company reported a surge in its online sales, jumping from around $250,000 a day before the store closures to between $800,000 and $1.1 million a day in just the last two weeks of April. It has seen a rise in demand for shoes for essential workers – like its Sketchers range for healthcare professionals – as well as active footwear and clothes from its Stylerunner and The Athlete’s Foot websites.

Accent Group CEO Daniel Agostinelli said in a statement the company is capitalising on the massive shift to online shopping.

“It is clear that there has been a seismic and most likely enduring shift in consumer behaviour away from traditional shopping centres to shopping online,” he said. “With 18 websites and our leading digital capability, Accent Group is capitalising on this trend. We will continue to drive digital growth as the number one priority in our company.”

While the group’s stores were closed to the public, some have operated as ‘dark stores’ – essentially fulfilment centres for items bought online. As its online sales have grown, the group opened more dark stores in April. Now all of its stores are dark stores, including some in New Zealand, which are working together with the group’s distribution centres to help with online orders.

Accent Group is planning to reopen its stores by May 11 with safety protocols in place like social distancing, contactless serving and customer number limits in stores.

The company believes its rise in online sales heralds a permanent shift in consumer habits among Aussies and New Zealanders. It expects its online sales to account for more of its overall sales in the future.

But while the group plans to reopen its stores, it still expects a hit to its profits from the drop in tourism and foot traffic triggered by the coronavirus.

The group has also been negotiating with its landlords over rent and has given notice to exit 28 store leases over the next six months.