2020 has certainly been a year filled with uncertainty and for physical retailers it has been no different. During the UK’s lockdown period, non-essential retailers were forced to close their doors for a total of 12 weeks, and as a result, our shopping behaviours changed almost overnight.
With no other option, shoppers moved online and during the months of April, May and June of this year, retailers reported a significant surge in e-commerce sales. In fact, retailer giant Amazon stated that their sales soared by a huge 40%. This is further proof that when a level of uncertainty hits the public, they’d rather act safely and spend their hard-earned cash online.
With that being said, the shift to online shopping was happening far before the impacts of 2020 begin to shake up all of our lives.
The future is bright – the future is online
The evolution of the internet has made it easier and more convenient for shoppers to browse and purchase goods than ever before. Whether that’s from a laptop, tablet or mobile phone – people can purchase almost anything from anywhere with just the click of a few buttons.
Whether you think it’s a good or bad thing, we’re seeing more brands close their physical stores, instead focusing their efforts into the online portion of their respective businesses and making that the main outlet of their sales. If it’s easier to generate profit online and connect with the customer, you’re going to see more and more businesses head down this modern road.
No reason to go to the high street anymore
Another reason that the online world of shopping has taken over physical retailers’ audiences, is that the high street has seemingly been out of fresh ideas for years. They don’t seem to be creative enough to drive large crowds of money-spenders towards them anymore.
It’s common knowledge that the current state of the high street is particularly gloomy to look at. There’s more store closures than ever before in the UK, and online shopping has well and truly stolen the throne of public spending.
There’s many factors behind this, some more complicated than others. From the simplest point of view, we can look towards online competitors out-pricing their high street counterparts. Members of the public can’t be blamed for choosing to keep more money in their wallets by paying a lower price for the same product. Sympathy won’t be in the mind of someone choosing to spend wisely, saving their selves additional funds.
The BBC reported, “Online giants such as Amazon have had a huge impact on the high street as more consumers see online shopping as cheaper and easier than going to the shops. While overall retail sales growth is weak, online sales continue to shoot up.”
This leads onto another factor that aided the downfall of the high street. Everyone has easy access to online shopping from the comfort of their own home. The high street has failed to give shoppers a reason to step out of their doors to purchase goods.
Retail sales are up, but it’s only a spike
The Office for National Statistics has pointed out that sales have recently rose by 3.6% between June and July. It claims that sales are now around 3% higher than back in February before the World Health Organization declared that a lockdown would come into effect in the UK.
Though the growth in physical sales doesn’t quite match what happened back in May, when the UK saw a 12% rise, the continuous, steadier growing rate signifies a real shift in the retail sector. We couldn’t have expected sales figures to continue massively growing post-lockdown, it eventually had to straighten out and maintaining it could become the next challenge.
Though, one thing that will really bring a smile to the faces of independent and small business owners with ventures on a high street, is the news that online sales are going down while physical sales shoot up. This signifies a real change in the market and seems to be confirming that time spent away from shops could be a really good thing for them.
It is possible that the public have witnessed a world without retail stores and decided that they don’t want to live in it or make it the new normal. So, with this in mind, shoppers may well be pledging their allegiance to the high street, rather than solely continuing to purchase items online.
You should be aware that this is only likely to be an emotional spike from shoppers and now that the social distancing rules have once again been tightened, online sales will restore their crushing dominance over that of physical stores in the near future.
The social distancing effect
Speaking of the social distancing rules being tightened recently, people are now once again not allowed to meet up with six or more individuals at a time. This will cast the worries of Covid-19 back into the minds of the public yet again and will likely scare crowds away from visiting physical stores when they have an easy-to-access alternative online.
Coronavirus has without a doubt impacted all aspects of our lives, and we’ve all had to think differently about the way we shop. You can pretty much guarantee that the trend for online shopping will continue to rise in a post-Covid world. We’re all becoming even more used to buying products online, due to the impacts of the terrible virus, and therefore it’s hard to see a point where we revert back to high street spending sprees.
The current surge in online sales and shares in the UK
It is hardly a secret that online sales have been boosted since the beginning of the UK lockdown, with everyone stuck at home trying to find ways to remain occupied and entertained; the solution for many has been to turn to online shopping and let the spending sprees commence. Even when shops reopened, many members of the public were put off of the idea of visiting the physical retail stores amidst the threat of Coronavirus. Though, there are however more reasons than one to have played a part in the current ongoing surge in online purchasing.
Are you getting your groceries online?
Some of the best performing businesses that have received the said boost during these strange times are online grocery shops, such as Ocado. This may come as quite a surprise because throughout the pandemic, supermarkets and other retailers selling essential goods were of course, allowed to stay open. With that being said, it all seems to point to the fact that the online alternative is becoming more and more popular, perhaps simply because it is both viewed as a safer and more convenient option.
Between March and May 2020, the proportion of UK food sales made online jumped to 11.3%, doubling in just a few months. This trend is set to continue to grow stronger as the year goes on and further uncertainty surrounds us all in the current pandemic-riddled climate.
Amazon set to hire 100, 000 new members of staff
The online retail giant Amazon is set to take on new, permanent members of staff, which will see the company’s total workforce cross the one million people mark. The staff members will be taken on in the United States and parts of Canada. This is due to the fact that the pandemic has caused such an uprising in sales via e-Commerce sites, that it is becoming too much for the company’s current workforce members to deal with, hence the extensions they’re making.
This is further evidence of the online sales world growing, once again. Even a giant of the online retail industry, such as Amazon is continuing to grow, which indicates that even the mammoth-sized corporations haven’t reached their height of popularity thus far. Though, it’s worth noting that Amazon has been consistently ramping up the size of its workforce since the lockdown began, as it is undoubtedly one of the businesses that have been taking advantage of the entire situation.
Getting started online? Consider your funding options
Business funding of this kind is great for all kinds of businesses, so if you have an idea of how you’d like to use the cash and want to know more about how you can apply for this type of e-commerce funding, get in touch with PDQ Funding today.
You’ll speak to an expert member of our team and you’ll be informed of all the details within this funding option. If you’d like to discuss anything further, or even get any advice on how you’ll use your funds, you can choose to do that and we’ll help you to the best of our abilities.