The latest stats from IMRG suggest that the postal strike in October cost £53m in lost sales online, as growth dipped during the month.
Total online retail sales for October were £4.2bn, up both on last year’s and September’s figures. However, growth dipped in the last two weeks of the month, as the strikes affected consumer confidence.
Previous surveys of online retailers suggested that there had been an impact, with two thirds seeing a 30% drop in sales during the period around the strikes, and the sales figures bear this out.
Some sectors were affected more than others though; the clothing sector seems to have suffered, with monthly growth falling from 27% last October to 13.2%. A likely explanation being customer concerns about receiving their party outfits in time.
Arena Flowers’s Sam Barton also reported a drop in sales around the time of the strikes, despite the fact that it uses a courier to deliver its flowers, so this is another area where customers were concerned about delayed deliveries.
However, the strikes seem to have had the reverse effect for gifts, with sales up 40% over September, and 113% year on year, as customers decided to buy some presents early to avoid disappointment.
Thankfully, the threat of any more industrial action before Christmas has been lifted, and, if the various surveys are to be believed, the outlook for online retail this Christmas is positive.
Retailers should still seek to reassure customers over deliveries though, as all shoppers will have concerns about getting their gifts delivered in time for the big day.
Providing clear information on delivery information in the run up to Christmas, and there is a potential advantage to be gained by retailers who can offer Christmas delivery right up to the last minutes, as there are always a few people who leave it late.
However, crucial information on last delivery dates should be made clear to avoid disappointing customers; whether you can delivery in time for Christmas or not.