It is known as the golden quarter – the three months leading up to the end of the year are a hallmark of retailers in the run-up to Christmas and the sales period beyond.
But in a bad year for business groups, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced shoppers to stay home, practically undoing the traditional January sale, where long lines could often be seen outside the malls as citizens on it waited to get a bargain.
The day after Christmas, known in the UK as Boxing Day, the number of visitors (63 feet) fell 63% year over year, according to retail expert Springboard.
Read: 2020 retail bankruptcies reached their highest level in more than a decade, and experts say more are to come
COVID-19 was largely, but not exclusively, to blame. Retail chains that have to pay expensive rents, staff and energy costs have been grappling with stiff competition from online competitors like Amazon for some time
This, and the introduction of US-imported Black Friday in the UK in recent years have cannibalized Boxing Day sales, leading some to question whether the latter has a future.
Diane Wehrle, Director of Marketing and Insights at Springboard, said, “Boxing Day has drawn fewer visitors each year for five of the last seven years as shoppers go online for the best deals.
“Interestingly, Boxing Day has evolved into more
A day of free time with shoppers starting their trips later in the day.
and go out shopping for dinner and catch up with family and family
"After spending so much time online this year, consumers are now experts in online shopping knowing they can enjoy the same discounts from the comfort and safety of their own home."
Read: U.S. Christmas sales rose 2.4% as online sales jumped
Rebeccah Lawless founded the website Osolocal2U in March 2020 to provide a home delivery service for fresh and delicious food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 30 years ago, she founded 4DegreesC to supply top restaurants across London and the South East of England, including Michelin-starred restaurants, and saw the opportunity to adapt the business model to accommodate via Osolocal2U during the temporary office closure in people's homes provide spaces.
"Our core business was restaurants in offices, and in March our business fell 97% overnight," she told MarketWatch. “We had all of the food, the trucks, the refrigerators, and the space and we decided to deliver home.
“My son Jack set up a website and we made sure we could be reached by phone to help customers new to online shopping. They learned from us and we now have a retention rate of 90%. "
The business started selling just 43 fresh items and now has 2,500 warehouse lines specializing in delicatessen, vegan and gluten-free.
"It has supported a large number of our employees," said Lawless. "And it's definitely a viable business, now we've decided to invest more in the delicatessen and high-end products that are not sold in supermarkets."
A Center for Retail Research (CRR) report made for VoucherCodes estimates UK retailers are still getting £ 3.2 billion ($ 4.36 billion) on Boxing Day, but more than half went online .
Today (January 1st) new research was released showing 2020 was one of the worst years for major streets in the UK (streets lined with shops) in the last 25 years. Around 3,400 retail jobs were lost every week.
In 2020, according to the CRR, a total of 176,718 jobs were lost at the end of the year due to main streets, major shopping destinations, towns and villages as well as small shopping parades and isolated shops across the UK.
Prof Joshua Bamfield, a director of CRR, said he expected more pain for the sector in 2021 and warned of the loss of up to 200,000 more jobs. “Our forecast is based on a number of factors such as the cumulative impact of months of closure and its impact on cash flow and rent arrears due after the moratorium expires. While the longer term effects of increased use of online retail stores by shoppers of all kinds on physical stores are likely to be extremely detrimental. "