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Retailers set for Christmas scramble as second wave of COVID-19 drives consumers online-only 

Online sales will be critical to retailers’ survival over the festive period, as the second-wave of COVID-19 measures hit, according to new research from logistics platform 7bridges and YouGov. 

The research shows that consumers who do most of their holiday shopping online are likely to spend almost 169 per cent more than those who shop offline. The shift to online shopping therefore presents a massive opportunity for retailers to claw back vital revenue in ‘golden quarter’ sales, across Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year.

This consumer shift to online shopping also presents a significant challenge for retailers to meet this increased demand. During the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions, half of retail businesses ran out of stock items, while over a quarter were unable to fulfil sales due to logistics failures.  

Disruption during the most important retail period of the year would be disastrous for those without robust logistics operations. However, just 30 per cent of retailers say they would be able to adapt quickly if their primary warehouse was forced to shut down, while 22 per cent would not be able to operate at all.

An efficient and effective logistics operation is key to meeting the increasingly high expectations of the modern digital consumer. Over 90 per cent of shoppers say the availability of free delivery will influence their choice of retailer, while a high-quality delivery and returns service could increase online sales by 225 per cent for less popular brands.

Phil Ashton, CEO of 7bridges, said: “Our research shows the many ways that retail businesses suffered during the early months of the pandemic, in particular, due to the vulnerabilities in their logistics. It also demonstrates how incredibly valuable online shoppers will be during 2020's 'golden quarter’, and the high levels or service that these consumers are seeking. Retailers need to mitigate supply chain risks and swiftly adapt to the demands of their target consumers in order to compete with the dominant players in the ecommerce space.

For more information, please see 7bridges’ whitepaper Holiday Horror: How to avoid the trading pitfalls of a COVID Christmas’. 

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