85,000 retailers launched online during lockdown in largest ecommerce shift ever recorded

Over 85,000 businesses have launched online over the last four months as lockdown sparks one of the most significant transformations the UK retail sector has ever seen.

The closure of more than 750,000 businesses when lockdown was imposed on March 23 has driven the highest number of new ecommerce offerings ever recorded over a four-month period.

Growth Intelligence’s research, which used artificial intelligence to track millions of business websites across the UK, revealed that the fashion and apparel sector led the way, with 8665 retailers adding new ecommerce payment methods and technology.

Other less likely business sectors moving online in their droves included manufacturing, food and drink retail and industrial food production companies, which saw 7129, 4156, and 3767 new ecommerce offerings launched respectively.

According to the research, many of these companies that would usually have distributed via third-party retail outlets have begun selling direct-to-consumers online for the first time.

READ MORE: “Highest online growth ever” for multichannel retailers despite physical stores reopening

Furthermore, of the estimated 762,250 businesses which shut in the UK during lockdown, just 308,861 have fully reopened, representing around 41 per cent.

The remaining 453,389 are either still fully closed or having to operate under severely revenue-limiting restrictions, so the number of businesses exploring ecommerce could continue to grow dramatically.

“It’s remarkable to see the speed at which small businesses across the country have adapted,” Growth Intelligence chief executive Tom Gatten said.

“Being unable to trade in the traditional sense has been a catalyst in driving digital transformation and where one door has closed, this nation of shopkeepers has forced another to open.

“Thousands of businesses are making the most of the tremendous opportunity that growing demand for online shopping is creating. While our data shows a very slow return to what we previously considered ‘normal’, the new environment is opening new markets and this will reinvigorate the economy.”

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