Online delivery shortages drove “dramatic growth” for local stores last year

Online delivery slot shortages have provided a significant boost for local shops that have begun listing products online in their droves.

According to new data from NearSt, 6.3 million shoppers turned to local independent retailers in March, June and November last year, the three months when supermarket delivery shortages were at their peak.

NearSt’s technology links items being listed online on Google Shopping to items stocked in nearby shops, thus encouraging shoppers to visit stores in person.

During March 2020 when the UK’s first lockdown was announced, already stretched supermarket delivery services all but collapsed, leaving many vulnerable shoppers facing multiple-week waits.

This drove a whopping 180 per cent rise in the number of shoppers checking for product availability locally and heading to their closest high street store.

READ MORE: British retail technology startup NearSt secures a further £2 million in funding

This was mirrored in January 2021 when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced another national lockdown, driving a 20 per cent surge in shoppers searching for online goods locally and heading to their closest high street store.

“While online shopping has soared throughout 2020, many are overlooking the more dramatic growth in local search, which is really encouraging news for high streets,” NearSt co-founder Nick Brackenbury said.

“As we actively seek to reduce unnecessary outings and browsing time in shops to mitigate the risk of catching COVID, coupled with our insatiable appetite to ‘have things now’ mean the demand to find and confirm things are in shops locally has swelled significantly as a result.

“Today we are seeing 4x the volume of local product searches compared to pre-pandemic levels. That is a sustained quadrupling in people going online to find products ‘offline’ in physical shops.

“This emerging consumer behaviour of searching and discovering products online to buy in nearby physical stores presents an exciting new opportunity for businesses.”

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