Will Shopping go online this Christmas? – FTAI

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As Christmas season approaches, will traditional shopping be replaced by online shopping? Will courier companies be ready for a change like this? ….. asks Aidan Flynn, General Manager, Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI). 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the move to e-commerce and online shopping which has seen significant growth since March across Ireland. It has become an increasingly common occurrence to see multiple delivery vans, including from An Post blitzing homes on a daily basis. A recently published report ‘Tipping Point’ – “How e-commerce can reignite Ireland’s post-Covid-19 economy” by IE Domain Registry (IEDR) highlights that 95% of Irish consumers have shopped online at some point during the COVID-19 pandemic. 72% indicated in the survey that they have spent more or at least the same online during the crisis.

Those businesses that setup for online trading took advantage it seems as traditional retail stores had to close in the early days of the pandemic. A very interesting and encouraging statistic from the report shows that 53% of consumers shopped with Irish SMEs and 67% doing so out of a sense of solidarity. However, nearly 50% would prefer to do their shopping in store. It is striking though that only 25% of SMEs sell online, a statistic that should change dramatically in the coming months and years. Consumers are suggesting through evidence in reports like this one that a blended shopping experience is going to become more of the norm in the future. With Brexit moving in the direction of a ‘no deal’ the time is right for Irish businesses to develop an online profile now as the cost of goods coming from the UK will increase due to tariffs, VAT on imports and possible quotas on goods. Of course, online shopping is dependent on a complex and efficient supply chain resulting in the purchased goods being delivered to our homes in a safe and secure way. These goods can travel by Air, Sea and Land with what is known as the ‘final mile’ being delivered by a van.

The increase in volumes has tested the resilience of the courier companies as they are challenged to meet the unprecedented demand. Volumes passing through sorting and distribution centres increased to levels never before seen, apart from Christmas spikes in demand. However, with COVID-19 restrictions continuing to remain in place the purchasing habits of consumers’ needs to be re-evaluated. With Christmas on the horizon we have heard in recent days from retail excellence that retailers could face stock shortage issues due to disruption in manufacturing of products earlier in the year. At the same time to sustain the capacity that’s allows goods get delivered on time, consumers would do well to prepare for Christmas early this year spreading their purchasing earlier than normal helping alleviate the risk of a chocked supply chain due to increased demand in November and December. Whether it is online or in store, and your circumstance allow, the message is shop often, shop early and shop Irish to support our national recovery.”