Freeze drives shoppers online
Severe weather conditions are driving consumers away from the high street, with sharp increases for online retailers over the past week.
Johnlewis: big freeze prompts customers to shop online
Insurer RSA estimates the cold snap could cost the economy £1.2bn per day in lost productivity, but, according to Clive Black, head of retail at Shore Capital, large numbers of workers unable to get to work will be more inclined to shop online.
He said: "Distress and boredom will undoubtedly boost online sales. Online food and non-food will benefit from that. The challenge will be whether companies are able to deliver because of the weather, but we expect an upward spike.
"Both food and non-food are increasing online for the foreseeable future, and there was a 41% increase in online sales last week, due to the Christmas shop at Waitrose."
The freeze will enhance the "internet Christmas" effect, which has seen consumers opting to shop online in increasing numbers.
Retailer John Lewis backs up the claims, with last week's in-store sales 8.8% up on last year, but showing reduced increases compared to previous weeks.
Nat Wakely, director of selling operations for John Lewis, said: "The snow has impacted both footfall and sales in shops where the weather has been particularly poor. However, there has been some compensation in our multichannel proposition, with johnlewis.com up 62.2% week to date, as customers unable to travel opt to shop online."
Online auction site eBay expected increased traffic over the past weekend.
A spokesperson said: "We already know that 75% of Brits plan to do their Christmas shopping online because of the ease and convenience it brings. As the cold weather sets in, we are expecting an even bigger Super Sunday than first predicted, as shoppers hit the virtual high street instead of snowy pavements."
Online grocer Ocado agreed. A spokesman said: "The weather has, indeed, boosted our sales," and snow-ready trucks were delivering despite the weather. Ocado had recorded spikes in demand for products suitable for those stuck at home compared to the previous week (see below).
For some, the weather has been a significant problem. Sports retailer JJB sports claimed the freeze would damage its business. The company this week said it would be likely to break its banking covenants in the New Year. "This will be further exacerbated by current adverse weather conditions," the company said.
Ocado said the freeze has prompted a rush on "warming" products:
- De-icer – up 42%
- Cough medicine – up 21%
- Oats and porridge – up 35%
- Socks – up 55%
- Gravy – up 25%
- Stew-based products – up 13%
- Hot chocolate – up 11%
- Whiskies – up 26%
- Christmas "gift" foods – up 47%
- Christmas cards – up 20%
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
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