The UK still faces many weeks of hardship before it can say the coronavirus crisis is over, but the UK courier expert ParcelHero says that it has seen ‘green shoots’ that online retailers are returning to business. It believes there has been a change in the public mood as retailers have got to grips with the new normal for home deliveries.
David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero, claims many mothballed online stores are now returning to business as home deliveries of non-essential items become acceptable again.
Jinks said: “Many retailers of all sizes, from fashion giants to the smallest traders, closed the door on their online operations as well as their physical stores when lockdown was imposed on the evening of the 23rd March. The feeling was that home delivery services should be freed up for essential deliveries of items such as masks, hand gels and groceries. There was also concern that retailers and distribution centres would be unable to operate safely. However, now the Government has spelled out that it wants all online trade to continue where possible, not just for essential products.
“On 8 April, the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, urged e-commerce retailers to continue trading, saying: “The Government has always been clear that online retail can continue to operate and is encouraged, and that postal and delivery services will continue to operate.” In addition to the pent-up demand for products to shake-off lockdown lethargy, this has resulted in a number of sites re-opening and online stores returning to action. The feeling that it is somehow ‘wrong’ to order non-essential products has eased.
“From the biggest brands to small online traders, sites are re-opening across the UK. The fashion chain Next has partially restored its online operation, implementing strict distancing guidelines in their warehouses. At the other end of the scale, Amazon is increasing the range of products it will allow sellers to offer though its Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) service, whereby stock from certain sellers is stored in its warehouses prior to sale. Having recently banned many of their non-essential items from its website, Amazon is now reportedly relaxing its restrictions. Etsy and eBay have also introduced measures to encourage traders to stay up and running.
“Fashion store Quiz has the answer to why many stores are re-opening. It stopped High Street and online sales the day before the Government’s lockdown started but, this week, it has restored limited online sales by using staff who are willing and able to work safely, with regular deep cleaning of its workplaces and by supplying PPE equipment. The footwear retailer Schuh has also resumed online trading this week, with a staggered re-opening of operations. Some stores, such as B&Q, have re-opened with specially timed slots to allow people to buy products.
“And it’s not just big names returning. Small online stores, from craft and hobby products to clothing and electronics, are coming back into operation where it’s safe to do so. Just this week, ParcelHero is seeing a number of our online SME retail regulars returning, as companies come to grips with opening their distribution operations again, while maintaining safe social distancing for staff.
“As the emphasis on essential deliveries dies away, we’ve seen shipments of DIY tools, musical instruments, games and craft products rise rapidly in the last few days. Clearly, shoppers now feel less guilty about ordering products to help them fill furlough time without hindering the delivery of essential goods.
“Consumers have decided it’s no longer a sin to start buying a few non-essentials, and that home delivery networks can cope with the extra traffic. We believe they are right. Retailers returning online may no longer be able to access their exact usual delivery service but there is still a wide choice to compare at: https://www.parcelhero.com/en-gb/uk-courier-services.”