“What retailers do matters more than what they say,” said Emilie Mouquot, customer and growth director at “At this stage, people are really aware of social and environmental issues.”

Speaking in the first episode of Money Talks, a Retail Week video series in partnership with Barclays Partner Finance, Mouquot added that sustainability is “top of mind” for consumers even when buying Christmas products. 

She added shoppers are looking for items that are better for the environment, “not just something that you would buy and then throw away once Christmas is over”.

Carly O’Brien, chief marketing officer at the Very Group, agreed and said its customer base is increasingly wanting to hear about what businesses are doing to act sustainably. 

“From a fashion perspective consumers are becoming a lot more conscious of where the product is from, the materials that it’s made from,” she said. “So for us, it is about communicating and being really clear where we are making significant improvements in that space.”

O’Brien added: “We talk about [sustainability] a lot from a corporate perspective but we haven’t historically had a dialogue directly with our customers about it. And so for us, we will be starting to have a much more active dialogue with our customers over time as sustainability is absolutely one of the threads that we think is a really important conversation to be in.”

Communication across the board has been integral this year as the industry has navigated some of the most challenging times ever seen.’s Mouquot said: “We have been focussing on being relevant to the feeling of the nation and keeping our finger on the pulse and being very agile in the content we are putting out to our customers.”

Barclays has also been increasing the number of channels it communicates with its customers on.

“We’ve been more proactive in our communications to our existing customers, using tone of language to show that we’re there to support them and help them and to be clear about the different ways in which we can help them,” said Owain Jones, head of strategy and insight at Barclays Partner Finance

Money Talks

Over the coming months, Retail Week’s new three-part video series Money Talks will be investigating everything you need to know about shopper spending habits.

The second Money Talks panel discussion, How to drive frictionless shopping experiences, will be online on November 12 and feature Molton Brown global CX director Julie Folie and Secret Spa CEO Rider Latham.