By: Michiel Lely – Director, Professional Services

Ka-ching!

How one man’s tragedy is another man’s treasure.

There is a winner! With a turnover of $11,000 per second on products and services, Amazon can truly be called the (only) winner in this time of economic and social contraction[1].

Millions of people lost employment in a matter of weeks, national economies are contracting with 10% percent and more … but the share price of Amazon has gone up by a third during lockdown to reinforce Jeff Bezos’ position as the richest man in the world.

Am I picking a fight with Amazon? No! They are not the only company faring well, it is all online business … if you can mail order something, they’ve seen increases in orders by 00’s. I get my fruit & veg delivered by Riverford but I couldn’t change my order for months due to capacity constraints; and the same for my meat box and Ocado groceries. We were lucky to already use these services; within weeks of lockdown these companies weren’t accepting new customers anymore.

But it is not just the average online shop that saw a rise in customers. Many niche shops saw a similar rise in trade – mail order pasta (e.g. pasta evangelists), monthly cake, coffee, flower or gin to name a few – but the most creative one I found were the DIY meal kits from famous restaurants.

What is my point? People are bored spending months on end at home and they are spending their furloughed time shopping. More than usual. During lockdown, online shopping has increased by 50% to 62%[2].  This means that almost 2/3 of all shopping was done online, and half that increase is expected to stay. Amazon’s share in this is a whopping 35% even though 21% of these consumers are  concerned about Amazon’s rising influence.

According to Alok Sharma, UK Business Secretary, the high streets are springing back to life, but I am not so sure. Since the reopening of non-essential retail, I have ventured out a few times and there is not much spark on ‘my’ high street. People have become accustomed to online shopping, and/or still feel uncomfortable heading out as we used to… and our Retail and Hospitality is continuing to feel the pain.

I have a confession to make, to my wife’s dismay, I am one of those online shoppers. You name it, I have ordered it during lockdown! Not sure what the craziest thing was… probably the massive box of frozen Dutch bar snacks (bitterballen)!

But something has to change for me. Not just the excess, but the direction. We vote with our wallet and I want to support more local, even if much of it is online. Our high street needs us, the people around us need us; more than I need next day delivery. It sounds cliché, but even if we’re still working from home and continuing to social distance, let’s try to start making a difference.

Let’s buy local, even if it is online

[1] ‘Amazon reaps $11,000-a-second coronavirus lockdown bonanza’ by Rupert Neate, 15 April 2020

[2] ‘Nearly two-thirds of UK shopping during lockdown is online; half scared to shop in-store,Wunderman Thompson Commerce reveals’ by Fiona Briggs, 3 July 2020