Posted on December 10, 2021
by Huboo Fulfilment
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How Will Plan-B Affect Christmas Retail?

As Christmas approaches, Huboo takes a look at how Christmas retail changes for both customers and businesses.

On Wednesday 8th December, Boris Johnson announced a set of measures, known as ‘Plan-B’, to halt the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant as it spreads across England. This newly announced change includes a return to working from home where possible, although this update is not mandatory. Similar restrictions are already in place for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The following rules will come into force from the stated dates:

  • Friday 10th December: Wearing a face mask is essential in most public settings;
  • Monday 13th December: Employees should work from home where possible;
  • Wednesday 15th December: An NHS Covid Pass is needed for entry into any enclosed-space venue with more than 500 people in attendance. A pass is also required for outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any event with more than 10,000 people.

The Pandemic Has Already Changed Online Sales

During the previous lockdowns of 2020-21, eCommerce stores around the world saw a major boost in online activity, as stores rushed to cater for the demands of a population living and working from home.

Along with an obvious increase in medical supplies, like Covid tests and face masks, the previous lockdowns saw a range of other items selling in much greater quantities than before. These were an eclectic mixture of items ranging from toys and jewellery to gym equipment and musical instruments.

Products that make working from home a more comfortable experience, such as computer chairs, cushions, and hot water bottles, were other key goods that helped propel the online surge. One prominent area of sales volume throughout the pandemic has been the variety of electronic products that the public require for working from home, including laptop and router sales.

To make life more comfortable, many businesses have introduced a flexible hybrid working model, for both employers and workers alike. This involves a mixture of both home and office work, which can save a business money on office-space costs while allowing staff to enhance their life-work balance.

Do Shoppers Still Want Physical Stores?

The public’s decision to shop online is more the result of circumstance, rather than a desire to shop online simply for convenience. Figures show that 74% of UK shoppers miss attending physical stores, where they can get up close with a product, especially in regard to clothing stores.

The affect on high-street retailers was exacerbated by the need for shop workers to isolate for their own sake. This has had a very negative impact on retail workers who have been made redundant over the past 18-months amid the closure of thousands of stores.

The online shopping boom coincided with a marked increase in shoppers choosing to undertake Christmas shopping earlier than in previous years. In fact, statistics show that over 25% of the UK public did all of their Christmas shopping this year before December, with 27% planning to start their Christmas shopping and other festive arrangements earlier than in the past. By contrast, in 2020 only 25% of shoppers stated that they would finish all of their buying before December.

Move Your Shop Online

Unfortunately, the rise in online sales has not been good for brick-and-mortar stores that rely upon in-person interaction, especially independent shops that have already suffered financially since the pandemic began.

For these shops, there has never been a better time to switch to selling online. There are several effective online platforms that can quickly and easily convert an entire physical inventory into a digital store, to match the catalogue of a high-street shop.

The government’s tightening of home-working rules comes at an already crucial time for retailers who have already been planning for the expected sales peaks of both the Christmas and January sales periods.

At Huboo, we’re fully prepared for any online sales surge thanks to the structure of our unique Hub model. The flexible model allows retailers plenty of storage space for their stock, as well as a dedicated pick and pack service that expertly completes every stage of the online sales process.