The Works has revealed its key weakness amid the pandemic, a heavy reliance on its 530 stores for sales. Total sales declined 24.8% in the 11 weeks to 10 January due to temporary store closures amid national and regional restrictions.

Although online sales increased c.70% during this period, these sales came from a small base (online accounted for only c.10% of sales pre-Covid), and was not enough to offset losses from stores. The discount retailer must invest in fulfilment to encourage online purchases, as delivery for orders under £30 costs £2.99, which pales in comparison to Amazon’s same/one-day Prime delivery.

With its value proposition, The Works is well placed to benefit from consumers trading down amid financial uncertainty, and with the UK plunged back into national lockdown and schools and universities closed, there will once again be heightened demand for stationary and entertainment products. On its website, The Works wisely advertises a ‘Boredom Buster’ section, as well as products aimed to capitalise on the popularity of film and TV shows such as The Queen’s Gambit and Black Panther. Double-digit growth in sales from open stores and online combined in most recent trading demonstrates that these initiatives are appealing to consumers.