While everything and everyone is telling us to look forward into 2015, we can’t help but look behind us panto style, and take stock of the mixed messages Christmas trading has given us. According to figures and retail analysts, online retailing continues to improve at the expense of in store retailing which has seen a downturn. On top of that, John Lewis, the behemoth of the high street, reports that most of their increase in sales has been in click and collect. This is on trend for other retailers showing click and collect accounting for up to 50% of their online sales.
So, how are changing consumer buying patterns going to impact on the retail landscape? Are bricks and mortar stores just becoming destinations to drive online sales and a convenience for collecting products ordered online? As Andy Street, John Lewis managing director says, ‘establishing a physical shop presence is key to winning internet customers, because they frequently browse products before ordering online’.
The shift in popularity to click and collect is a reflection of consumers’ mistrust of the current online delivery model; to get them their product delivered when they want it during peak times. Consumers have not forgotten the delivery let downs of previous years and have, literally, voted with their feet this year.
For courier companies, anticipated increase in demand has led them to invest heavily in their network creating an excess capacity with neither the volumes nor prices to cover their costs. The most financially stretched operators offering the poorest service are now suffering – with the first large fatality being City Link just before Christmas.
What do we anticipate for 2015? Probably a period of entrenchment and consolidation with a possible emergence of new operators. Consumer trends will, no doubt, continue to shift making it all even more unpredictable. Our crystal ball is looking a bit cloudy at the moment but is sure to clear over the next few weeks!