The arrival and impact of the Omicron variant in the UK means shoppers will participate in a second £35.26bn online Christmas, according to a report from ParcelHero.
The closure of shops during lockdown last year forced consumers to do the majority of their festive shopping online, with ecommerce spend growing from 22.28bn in 2019 to £35.26bn in 2020, while physical stores saw a fall from £60.85bn in 2019 to £44.44bn in 2020, according to figures from Statista.
As shoppers once again grow more cautious about visiting the high street, the courier said it is likely we will see a similar ecommerce boom again this year.
“We don’t expect the return of a pre-Christmas lockdown again this year, but shoppers are having to adapt to wearing masks in stores again and are becoming more careful about having contact with other people, ParcelHero’s head of consumer research David Jinks said.
“That means more Brits will be ordering online and sending gifts by couriers and delivery networks, rather than delivering them in person.
“Online snaffled 44 per cent of the £79bn Brits spent on presents and food last year.
“Many analysts forecast overall sales will rise to £84.7bn this year.
“That means we still expect to see online sales level-pegging with Christmas 2020, even with a slight fall to 42 per cent of the overall market.
“Before the arrival of Omicron, we had been expecting online sales to fall back by around £3bn.
“In some ways, this is good news for online retailers – and store retailers with a strong website.
“However, given ongoing driver shortages, ports delays, and supply chain issues, a further surge in online orders may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
‘For some weeks, we have been urging retailers to bring forward their final online order dates for Christmas.
“This week, quite a number heeded our call.
“Given the current strain on delivery services and the arrival of the new Omicron variant, we won’t be surprised if even more retailers bring forward their final order dates as Christmas nears.
“That’s why our continually updated Christmas deadlines tool is so useful for keeping shoppers in the know with all their favourite retailers’ final order dates.”