So we’ve gotten past the worst parts of Covid-19 (in most states). We’re starting to go back to work (perhaps part-time along with WFH options). And we can socialise again (under restrictions and supervision). How will the Coronavirus have impacted our options for shopping? There was more to the shortages we experienced than just hoarding and fear. There were supply chain interruptions, and store closures as well. We’ve experienced lots of impediments to our daily shopping, but will that have any impact on our holiday purchases?
Shop trading hours have been an issue, and so many stores closed down temporarily, or permanently. Most of the larger chains remained open, and smaller stores were only closed for very short periods in some regions. As long as everyone operates under their Covid Plans, nearly every store has reopened. However some may have very different trading hours from pre-Covid trading.
Supply chains are part of every sale you have ever taken part in. You want to buy a toy for your child = someone needs to invent it, make it, store it, ship it, sell it, deliver it. Every step of the way there have been Covid Safe Plans, Covid Marshals and sometimes Covid Management Plans.
A study in the US showed that new items were not being sold in stores. The number of new products went down 43%. Stores were focusing on redirecting supply chains, sourcing new suppliers and restocking after panic buying. Whether or not we are trading happily with China, so many of the world’s products are exported from there, causing all sorts of havoc with stocks worldwide. Many buyers began protesting, requesting, or even boycotting stores if they were using items bought from China and not locally sourced.
Closures and restrictions affected factories as well. The items produced for sale have to be made somewhere, and if the factory cannot hold enough people, the number of products produced suffer. Warehouses, unable to have enough staff on site to pack and sort, or transfer packages, parcels and pallets, means that stock is just not issued to the stores in question.
While local deliveries may not have had too much interference, cross border shipping and freight were majorly affected by the virus. Lack of qualified drivers, inability to afford wages, so many factors impeded the ability of all stock to be delivered, whether to the store for sale, or to the buyer unable to attend the shop in person. The number of deliveries escalated to the point Coles and Woolworths had to cease general deliveries unless you were elderly, vulnerable or isolated. Eventually deliveries returned for the rest of the population and we were able to order goods for delivery.
Online sales spiked. The convenience of home delivery, coupled with many more people working from home and being able to accept deliveries during the day, meant that the total sales numbers for internet shopping soared.
Christmas could also mean that there are even more deliveries and online sales to be made than ever before. Sales may have increased online while we could not physically enter a store. But how much worse is it going to be for holiday shopping?
Victorians are still subject to strict pandemic restrictions. Their roadmap to recovery will hopefully see a closer return to normal before Christmas. But or now, they are setting absolute records for online shopping.
They have outscored every other state in August for online purchases, with Australia Post reporting Victoria’s deliveries are 170% up from the previous year. While they were still in Stage 4 restrictions, and the rest of the country was open for business, for July and August over a third of all online purchases were made in Victoria.
In store shopping is slightly different post-pandemic as well. Shoppers are very targeted and determined. They come in, get what they want, and get out. But Christmas trees and decorations are already on shopping lists in parts of the world. Tree sales have climbed up 233% and decorations were up 156% already. WARNING: THERE IS NO NEED TO PANIC BUY TREES! (Just thought I’d put that out there.)
Restrictions may ease by Christmas, and shopping in-store may be relatively normal. I feel a few places will still have very limited hours or days for trading. Some are extending and having special hours for the elderly or disabled so they can shop in comfort and without too much fear of contagion.
We will have to bear in mind our own restrictions around Christmas too: how many people to a gathering? How many people are allowed in your house? Larger family gathering = do we require a Covid Safe Plan for the venue?
My son’s school has already informed us there is no Christmas/End of Year concert this year. Usually a time when parents get off work early so we can all see our children perform their little hearts out, this year (and horribly for our Year 7s and their last opportunity!) there will be no mass celebration at the end of the school year.
The Adelaide Christmas Pageant will be held for the first time in a venue. Normally held in the streets of Adelaide’s CBD, closing off all to traffic (while kids draw in chalk on the road surfaces) and 300 000 people attend, for 2020, the Pageant will be conducted inside Adelaide Oval with seated guests under a Covid Management Plan. Usually an event where thousands turn up first thing in the morning to get the best spots roadside, this will be a twilight event as well, where hopefully 25 000 can still see Santa arrive for Christmas.
Christmas is going to look very different in 2020. You know what? Start now (if you haven’t already) and worst case scenario, you’re finished way ahead of time!