2020 has, to put it mildly, been a bit of a grim year. Economically and socially, the country (and the western world) is in a pretty dire state, with businesses folding and jobs disappearing on a regular basis.
There are a few corners of the economy which are thriving, however. These are social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, whose platforms we’re using more than ever before. But the real winners have been e-tailers like Amazon. It’s to these platforms that we turned during lockdown and it’s to these platforms that we’ll be returning when the time comes to buy our Christmas gifts.
With no means of getting out and buying stuff during lockdown, many of us resorted to online shops. And, having done so, it’s likely that we’ll keep doing so – because, when it comes to shopping, habits are especially difficult to break. Thus, Amazon’s timeline for world domination has been brought forward a decade or so, with Prime Day 2020 sure to smash records for the company.
Traditional high-street retailers have fared less well, as they didn’t have the logistical infrastructure and technical expertise to pivot to online instead. Personalised advent calendars and other niche gifts can be more easily bought online, after all.
While they made the necessary adaptations, the already-existing e-commerce players were able to build up a sizeable lead. High street giants like John Lewis, for whom Christmas is an absolutely critical time of year, are preparing to pull out every stop to meet the challenge – opening stores early to cope with higher demand while still keeping customers safe from contagion.
The best way to get ahead of the crowd, as ever, is to go shopping as early as possible. After Halloween, the season of shopping will really begin – and this time, it’ll be a season of uncertainty. For essential Christmas supplies like advent calendars, decorations and frozen turkeys, many shoppers will find themselves turning to the internet in order to skip the crowds.
The thing that’s making the advent season especially troublesome is the uncertainty surrounding future lockdown measures. Local lockdowns are gradually rolling into force, and the possibility of a second national lockdown in England is still dangling. Retailers who have made the switch to online will be better prepared to weather changes in conditions than those who haven’t – it’s unlikely, after all, that delivery networks will be effected to anywhere near the same degree as your local high street or shopping centre.
Even before the arrival of the novel coronavirus, the British high street was in dire health. Business Live, in an article late last year, predicted that ‘more closures’ would arrive soon, as the cost of rent simply didn’t justify a physical premises for many storeowners. Throw in a lockdown, and the case for closure becomes even more irresistible.