Coronavirus could double home deliveries

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UK courier provider ParcelHero predicts that home shopping could double if coronavirus becomes established in the UK.

According to the company’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, home shopping could double from 20% of all retail sales to 40% as consumers switch from buying food and household items in stores to home deliveries.

The UK government’s coronavirus action plan says if the virus gets a foothold in the UK, the population will be encouraged to keep their distance through school closures, home working and reducing large scale gatherings.

Jinks said, “It is likely that consumers will also want to avoid crowded shopping centers and the big weekly superstore shop for groceries. One obvious alternative is shopping online. Consumers who have so far resisted e-commerce are likely to change their minds and move online to buy food and household items to avoid busy stores.”

If the virus becomes a pandemic, cases are predicted to escalate from April followed by six to eight weeks of significant increase into May and June before a downturn.

If a peak happens, Jinks predicts the demand for home deliveries of food, household items and products like bleach and soap could double.

“Retailers of all sizes must take stock of their online sales capability and consult with their logistics teams and partner courier networks to be prepared for a significant jump in home deliveries. This is not a case of profiteering during a potential emergency, it is just switching the way they meet normal consumer demands,” he said.

Jinks added that once the outbreak is over, consumers may return to shopping in store, but retailers will need to make adjustments for the future.

“If the coronavirus does become a recurring problem, that might necessitate continued home shopping for many vulnerable and elderly consumers. To repeat, putting greater significance on online sales is not exploiting the situation, it is just common sense and will benefit all consumers if there is a significant outbreak here in the UK,” he said.

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