Almost half of non-food sales will be made online by 2025 as more shoppers work from home: study

Online demand has now subsided from pandemic peaks. Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Online demand has now subsided from pandemic peaks. Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Almost half (49.7%) of total non-food retail sales will be made online by 2025 as more shoppers work from home, a new report suggests.

More shoppers will opt to buy online as they work from home – with an extra £19.6bn of online sales predicted to be delivered to homes as a result, the new Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark report from Metapack and Retail Economics suggests. The rise will come as shoppers working from home will be more likely to take delivery at the first time of asking.

The report questioned more than 6,000 adults in the UK, US, France and Germany in November 2021, and found that in the UK, 27.3% of UK consumers expect to do more of their shopping online in the future, following the shift online during the pandemic. That is expected to mean £22.4bn more online sales than would have been seen if the pandemic had not affected the way people shop. That, calculates the study, is expected to mean an extra £19.6bn of additional sales via home delivery alone by 2025. And at the same time, 35.8% of respondents say they will visit physical stores less in the future. That’s greater than those expecting to make fewer visits in the US (28.7%), Germany (20.8%) and France (17.2%).

Richard Lim, chief executive of research consultancy Retail Economics, says: “A permanent shift in consumer behaviour and vast investment across the ecommerce ecosystem has accelerated the shift to online. Structural changes in the labour market, with persistently higher levels of home working across households, has unlocked greater demand for home deliveries. Although the demand for speed will put pressure on supply chains, home workers have both a greater ability and greater willingness to pay for delivery and returns compared to average online shoppers, which is critical for profitability amid rising costs and elevated customer expectations.”

Shifting online

The predictions envisage the greatest shift online in the clothing, homewares and health and beauty categories as 24.8% of UK shoppers now work from home more since the pandemic. Around half (50.6%) of these ’digital shifters’ expected to do more of their shopping online permanently, compared to 27.1% of those who have not changed where they work during the pandemic.

By 2025, says the report, UK home workers expect to have 11.5% more of their retail purchases delivered to them at home, while those that haven’t changed the way they work will have 7.5% more delivered to home.

And, it suggests, speed is more important than convenience, cost or the carbon footprint of deliveries for 37.5% of those who are moving more of their purchases online – although that implies that speed is not the most important factor for 62.5%.

Duncan Licence, VP of global product at delivery management software provider Metapack, says: “Driven by the pandemic, online consumer shopping expectations have changed significantly over the last few years, and a lot of these changes are here to stay. Our new report takes a closer look at these developments and their lasting impact on both consumers and retailers. It is expected that, as home working becomes the norm for more and more people, their appetite for fast, convenient, and easy deliveries that fit their lifestyle, will continue to increase.”

He adds: “The retail industry has evolved beyond bricks and mortar, it’s time to step into the age of ecommerce.”

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