Online retailers brace for a 17% surge due to Omicron concerns


Online retailers and couriers are experiencing a 17% surge in late gift deliveries as visits to the high street collapse by 25% amid Omicron concerns, according to research from ParcelHero.

“The arrival of Omicron is nightmare timing for high street retailers, with the retail analyst Springboard revealing a 25% plummet in the number of visitors to the High Street on Sunday, compared to the last Sunday before Christmas in 2019,” said ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks.

“It’s heart-breaking,” he continued. “Things had been looking so rosy for town centre stores this season, with a 10.8% rise in the value of sales as recently as last month.”

Jinks revealed that Monday’s deliveries are around 17% up on prevously expected volumes, as shoppers stayed away from the high street and chose to order their final presents from the safety of home.

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“A shortage of truck drivers after Brexit plus long delays at UK ports, have already had an impact on home deliveries,” he added. “That’s now being compounded by growing Omicron-related illness and absence at distribution centres.”

Despite this, Jinks expects online stores and couriers to meet the last-minute challenge being put in front of them – although he does place a caveat on that; providing shoppers don’t leave things until the 23 December.

“With family get-togethers being discouraged by some health experts and mandatory curbs on household mixing now under consideration, many people have also made the decision to send their gifts to friends and family by courier, rather than deliver them in person.

“Many senders are booking pick-ups from home to avoid Post Office queues. This has added to the flurry of last-minute deliveries being handled by the networks.

“The result of all these changes in the last few days before Christmas means substantially more home deliveries than was forecast even just two weeks ago. So far, none of the main UK couriers are reporting very significant delays to parcel deliveries, but many stores have sensibly cancelled next-day options and have brought forward their final order dates.”

ParcelHero’s Christmas deadline tool and final order dates

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