Nov 9, 2020
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Retailers braced for huge online lockdown demand, but surge will boost pollution - reports

Nov 9, 2020

New studies say that Black Friday and pre-Christmas online shopping is going to get a whole lot busier this year with England in lockdown over the important selling periods. But with the increase will come a big rise in delivery-related pollution, according to another report.


Online sales are set to grow 35%-45% during the peak Black Friday period (23-30 November), compared to the same period a year ago, IMRG suggests.

Its report, which tracks 320 retail sites, also noted that some retailers have launched their Black Friday campaigns earlier this year. It said 4.3% of those monitored put their campaigns live on 4 November. For the same day in 2019 it was only 2.3%. It said that 2020 has been a year of huge growth online, as the pandemic has "fundamentally reshaped the retail landscape. Growth for the year so far (January-October) is up over 34%, whereas for 2019 as a whole it was just +6.7%.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight director at IMRG, said: “We were anticipating a huge surge online this peak, and circumstances have conspired to ensure that is the case; the stores are closed, furlough has been extended and shoppers are being advised to get the bulk of their Christmas shopping done before December."

He added: “There is a possibility that could mean people spend more in the early weeks of November, pulling some of the volume away from the Black Friday week – that seems the only realistic reason why the online spend for that period could come in lower than +35%.”

Justin Opie, Managing Director at IMRG, added: “This year’s huge growth rates, and the expected online bonanza the Black Friday period will deliver, underline retail’s rapid structural shift online. This does not feel like a temporary development; further evidence is no longer required that this is a permanent shift. Retailers, including those with stores, with strong online propositions, will continue to trade well. Those without, for whom it’s not already too late, must adapt now if they are to survive.”

Meanwhile, during the lockdown, retailers and home delivery networks are bracing themselves for a massive surge in deliveries, anticipated to leap 54%. That’s expected to overtake order and delivery numbers recorded in the first lockdown, according to ParcelHero.

However, it said while retailers are far better prepared, the networks will be stretched thin as lockdown deliveries clash with the Christmas peak.

ParcelHero’s head of Consumer Research, David Jinks, said: “Whether they had planned for it or not, Brits are looking at a digital Christmas as far as buying gifts and treats is concerned. Significant shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday land before lockdown is scheduled to end on 2 December.

“Online orders grew 53% at the height of the first lockdown, and that’s likely to be overtaken this month. In fact, ParcelHero believes that Lockdown 2.0 ensures home shopping will grow by 54.97% this month YOY, which means online will overtake buying in store for the first time this Christmas. Our research shows that Brits will spend a record £39.41 billion online, narrowly eclipsing High Street sales.


But with that massive lift in online activity and subsequent rise in home deliveries comes a major problem. A big rise in pollution figures.

Deliveries from Black Friday shopping are expected to release over 429,000 tonnes of carbon emissions into the atmosphere while just 1 in 10 shoppers consider the environmental impact of deliveries of their online purchases, according to the Dirty Delivery report from money.co.uk.

Parcels firm Hermes is predicted to produce the most CO2 from Black Friday deliveries with 58,313 tonnes of CO2. And e-tail giant Amazon could process 5.1 million Black Friday transactions which could result in 18,854 tonnes of CO2.

The report also claims the 35% of consumers opting for next day delivery when making a purchase online can be the least carbon-efficient

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, said:  “With almost a third of consumers (32%) stating that they would be more likely to shop with a retailer if they offered a green or eco-friendly option, it is clear there is some appetite for more environmentally conscious delivery methods.

“Despite this, our research found that 20% of shoppers did not want to pay to offset the environmental impact of their online purchases, and a further 42% admitted to not feeling any environmental guilt when purchasing items online.

“Although there is clear interest from consumers to reduce their carbon footprint when shopping online, it appears speed and reliability are two qualities British consumers are more keen for delivery companies to possess.”

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