Coronavirus has altered every facet of life, with the pandemic also responsible for an increase in online shopping which is only expected to rise further as Black Friday approaches.
While online shopping can thank convenience for its ever-growing popularity, Covid-19 has accelerated figures beyond ecommerce’s wildest dreams.
Internet sales already represented almost 20% of all total retail transactions as of June 2019, with the future of the high-street endangered pre-pandemic.
In the height of lockdown, online shopping across the UK soared by 129%, with click and collect features seeing an increase of more than a third, as retailers and shoppers adapted quickly to social distancing measures.
Now, after lockdowns and restrictions, and with virtual shopping simply deemed safer than the alternative, some online retailers are posting record profits.
Asos recently reported a quadrupling of profits, with pre-tax earnings of £142.1m in the year to 31 August, which is up from £33.1m in the same period last year.
And despite a controversial year for fashion retailers Boohoo, the company enjoyed a rise in first-half profits of 51%.
Both groups benefitted from surges in customer numbers over lockdown, with Asos gaining 3.1m customers this year while Boohoo consumers increased 34%.
The fashion retailers profited from a demand for loungewear as customers were forced to stay home.
Meanwhile, those who suffered due to the pandemic have saw a potentially inevitable focus from store to web fast-tracked, with the likes of H&M closing the doors on 250 of its shops.
Whether businesses have benefited from pandemic-led consumer behaviour changes or struggled as a result, both will be looking to the impending Black Friday sales.
While bulk-buying was condemned at the early stages of the pandemic, Black Friday is a celebration of materialism and excess.
Black Friday originated in the US, and is celebrated the day after thanksgiving – the fourth Thursday in November.
Having crossed the Atlantic and grown in popularity over recent years, it is customarily an occasion of large queues and crowds but the day is now set to follow the years online trend.
Ecommerce has traditionally led the pack on Black Friday, with Amazon reigning when it comes to the biggest deals across the widest selection of goods.
The online retail association, IMRG, are predicting shops could face a 30% increase in online orders over the festive period, with many Brits opting for Black Friday to secure bargain gifts.
Those that do tend to welcome customers are either abandoning in-store offers to altering plans to comply with social-distanced shopping.
Matalan recently announced a scrapping of its in-store sales, favouring website discounts, while Debenhams have announced online deals will start from the 23rd November to entice shoppers to their website.
And many high-street stores reliant on the footfall of the shopping frenzy have announced plans for deals spanning the entire month, hoping the measure will give consumers more time to shop, allowing them to cope with capacity.
Boots are among those offering a Black November, with Benson for Beds also announcing 30-days of offers.
One beneficiary may indeed be Cyber Monday, one of the biggest online spending days in the States, with UK businesses expected to capitalise on the web-based event.
Whether Covid-19 has quickened the inevitable or will urge shoppers back to the high-street in a wave of support remains one of many unknowns, as lifestyles adjust to the pandemic.
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