‘Pingdemic’ and delta variant surge drives shoppers back online

Online retail spend in the UK is back on the rise despite lockdown restrictions being lifted as the surge in delta variant cases deters shoppers from the high street.

Online shopping has increased five per cent since the end of June, according to the latest figures from Barclays, marking a stark reversal in fortunes for ecommerce.

It comes after separate figures from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index released earlier this month revealed that online retail sales fell at their sharpest rate in history throughout June, dropping 14.1 per cent as shoppers made the most of their newfound freedom.

This return to the high street now appears to have been short lived, with “Freedom Day” doing little to encourage cautious shoppers away from their phones and computer screens.

READ MORE: Online retail sales fall at highest rate in history in June

“I think it was a mistake to believe that this caution would just go away overnight. I think a lot of people thought that overnight people sitting on cash would spend like there’s no tomorrow,” Barclays economist Fabrice Montagné said.

“The reason why it caught my attention is that this is typical lockdown behaviour. It might not be imposed by the Government, it might just be individuals applying social distancing all over again. We’re basically seeing some of the lockdown behaviour come back.”

Shore Capital’s retail analyst Clive Black added: “If you are starting to hear chatter about food availability that would encourage (shoppers) to go online.

“There are more people staying at home anyway because they are being told to by the NHS app. One of the legacies of this pandemic is that it has made a lot of people risk-averse. We are in the middle of a very material behavioural change.”

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