Delivery company ParcelHero believes online stores are re-opening their doors because “the government’s encouragement of ecommerce sales has convinced shoppers it’s no longer wrong to shop for non-essentials online”.

David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero, commented: “Many retailers of all sizes, from fashion giants to the smallest traders, closed the door on their online operations as well as their physical stores when lockdown was imposed on the evening of the 23rd March. The feeling was that home delivery services should be freed up for essential deliveries of items such as masks, hand gels and groceries. There was also concern that retailers and distribution centres would be unable to operate safely. However, now the government has spelled out that it wants all online trade to continue where possible, not just for essential products. 

“On 8th April, the business secretary, Alok Sharma, urged ecommerce retailers to continue trading, saying: ‘The government has always been clear that online retail can continue to operate and is encouraged, and that postal and delivery services will continue to operate.’

“In addition to the pent-up demand for products to shake-off lockdown lethargy, this has resulted in a number of sites re-opening and online stores returning to action. The feeling that it is somehow ‘wrong’ to order non-essential products has eased.”

David notes that fashion chain Next has partially restored its online operation, and reports that Etsy and Ebay have introduced measures to encourage traders to stay up and running.

He continued: “And it’s not just big names returning. Small online stores, from craft and hobby products to clothing and electronics, are coming back into operation where it’s safe to do so. Just this week, ParcelHero is seeing a number of our online SME retail regulars returning, as companies come to grips with opening their distribution operations again, while maintaining safe social distancing for staff.

“Consumers have decided it’s no longer a sin to start buying a few non-essentials, and that home delivery networks can cope with the extra traffic. We believe they are right.”