The decline in sales of high street and brick and mortar shops has been well documented over recent months. The Corona virus has resulted in many well known shops closing their doors and entering administration. Imposed government restrictions have lead many businesses to shut up shop. Some of the businesses going into administration include Cath Kidston, Debenhams, Oasis and Warehouse to name a few.
While traditional shopping as we know it has come to a halt, statistics gathered from online retailers show e-commerce sales have seen a 168% increase in May compared to the same period last year. This has been driven by rising online sales of electronic items, DIY supplies, home furnishings and sportswear, according to an analysis of hundreds of millions of transactions. The growth in online sales also extends wider to include essential items such as groceries, with established supermarket Sainsury’s reporting significant growth largely due to the success of its online grocery sales.
The furlough scheme introduced by the government has meant much of the population is still receiving eighty percent of their usual salary. And with traditional high street shops closed, it would appear that the public have turned to online shopping in order to fulfil their shopping needs.
It would appear that the UK lockdown has changed the habits of how consumers shop, with transactions shifting online just as our work and social lives have. In the past, shoppers may have preferred brick-and-mortar stores to buy items such as electronics, furniture or clothes. Fast deliveries and extended returns policies have also help further encourage shoppers to move online.
Effects on Employment
For now, much of the UK population is still furloughed, however it is expected that many of these employees, specifically those in traditional retail jobs are in danger of being made redundant or not being asked to return to work when the scheme ends.
It is not all bad news for employment in the UK however. The surge in online sales and increased demand has resulted in a wide range of businesses refocusing their staffing and recruitment drives. While face to face retail assistant roles are in decline, businesses are now recruiting for more roles for online.
The grow e-commerce extends across a wide range of roles including:
New warehouses and fulfilment centres are being built across the UK whereby products are stored and distributed from.
New fulfilment centres and warehouses need a wide range of staff in order to operate. Amazon’s new fulfilment centre based in Rugby has created 400 new jobs alone.
Delivery & Logistics
All the orders placed online have to be shipped. This has significantly increased the demand for drivers.
Online Sales Assistants
The “How can I help” box that pops up on many websites is often maned 24/7 by an online sales assistant offering advice and answering any questions online shoppers may have.
In the same way traditional shops are built and their layout designed for the best possible shopping experience. Teams of online developers and designers are often employed by online retailers.
Office Staff and Maintenance
The offices from which all the websites operate require cleaners, canteens staff and maintenance staff to ensure they all run.
The future of retail is uncertain, and it remains to be seen whether shoppers will return to the high street or continue to favour the online shopping experience. However the surge in jobs created by the internet economy can only be a good thing for jobseekers in the future.
If you are a business looking for longterm or temporary staff, Enigma Employment are one of the few recruitment agencies who can offer a wide range of skilled staff for both long term and flexible roles. Call us today for more information.