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EDITORIAL Is the online shift here to stay?

Image: Adobe Stock

Image: Adobe Stock

In today’s InternetRetailing, we’re asking what today’s ONS figures showing a drop in the share and the value of sale taking place online in June means longer-term. Today’s ONS report showed that 26.7% of retail sales took place online in June. That’s lower than the 28.4% of sales that were online in May, and the at the same time, the value online sales were lower both than the same time last year and than they were last month. 

At first glance, it could seem that shoppers are returning to the way they bought before the pandemic. But, the proportion of online sales that take place online is still much higher than it was before the pandemic, the ONS points out today. In February 2020, 19.9% of sales were online. June sales are still above that level, and likely benefited from a rush of enthusiasm for shops following more than a year of on and off lockdowns in the UK. The question now is whether what will last.  

Certainly, retailers are selling more online than they did before the pandemic. Grocers and other food retailers, today’s figures show, are now making 10% of their sales online – almost double the rate that was online before Covid. 

Their continuing enthusiasm for online is illustrated in Sephora’s acquisition of Feelunique, the beauty retailer and marketplace that has benefited strongly from the shift online over the last year. 

Crocs, the footwear brand, has seen strong online sales as well, and more than half of its sales are now direct to consumer, following a 25% rise in online sales. 

There’s also a suggestion that shoppers could move back online as more people are asked to isolate as Covid-19 levels rise following the removal of legal restrictions. As yet only food distribution workers are deemed essential enough to be able to test daily instead of self-isolating, according to government guidance. 

British Corner Shop has opened an EU distribution centre in order to supply rising demand post-Brexit that comes as many UK nationals living in Europe have not been able to visit because of Covid-19. 

In today’s guest comment, technologist Brian Skewes considers why retailers are shifting to the showroom model. 

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