Courier services company ParcelHero is predicting that home shopping could double, from 20% to 40% of all retail sales, if the Covid-19 virus gets a foothold in the UK.
The firm’s head of consumer research David Jinks says that in the event of a peak period in coronavirus cases, it is likely that consumers will want to avoid crowded shopping centres and the big weekly grocery shop in store.
“Consumers who have so far resisted e-commerce are likely to change their minds and move online to buy food and household items to avoid busy stores.
“For example, the Government’s Action Plan identifies the elderly as one ‘at risk’ group from the spread of the coronavirus. Traditionally elderly people have been less likely to buy online, but this is a group very likely to start using home deliveries, or have carers set up deliveries for them, if there is a severe outbreak.”
According to Wales’ chief medical officer, Dr Frank Atherton, a peak period in coronavirus cases could take place towards May and June – with ParcelHero saying this is likely to see demand for home deliveries of food, household items and in particular products such as bleach and soaps increase by 100%.
“Retailers of all sizes must take stock of their online sales capability and consult with their logistics teams and partner courier networks to be prepared for a significant jump in home deliveries,” explained Jinks. “This is not a case of profiteering during a potential emergency, it is just switching the way they meet normal consumer demands. In fact, it seems sales on the whole will decline during the virus peak period, as people will have other things on their minds besides shopping, but the overall home delivery portion of all sales is likely to double.”
This may also see some shoppers become permanent converts to home deliveries, while if the coronavirus does become a recurring problem, that might necessitate continued home shopping for many vulnerable and elderly consumers.
Jinks added: “To repeat, putting greater significance on online sales is not exploiting the situation, it is just common sense and will benefit all consumers if there is a significant outbreak here in the UK.”