Online businesses are thriving – As individuals across the world settle in for another week of lockdown, the full impact of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian businesses remains to be seen. Beyond the impact the illness is having on public health outcomes across the world, with the number of individual cases rising at an alarming rate and the death count climbing steadily each day, we are also beginning to see tangible changes in our daily lives.
With more of us than ever being forced to work or study from home, the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy is felt everywhere. But few areas of the economy are facing bigger levels of disruption than the physical retail space.
For many years now we have seen a slow but steady increase in the movement of consumers towards online shopping. Despite that trend, the physical retail space has remained remarkably resilient, with many consumers still preferring to do certain kinds of shopping in a physical store. This has been particularly true of grocery and clothing shops where the benefits of in-person shopping have long been realised.
To comply with the government mandated lockdown restrictions stores deemed ‘non-essential’ are having to keep their doors closed if they can’t comply with the requirements of ‘social distancing’. This shift has forced millions of consumers to turn to online alternatives, with those businesses able to put in place online shopping facilities better able to weather the storm unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Certain sectors are, however, harder hit than others. Online casinos such as those at Superlenny who have just recently launched in Canada. have seen an uptick in business while numerous brick-and-mortar casinos and bookmakers are closing their businesses for the foreseeable future.
Interestingly, this sudden spike in online shopping has happened across the retail space, with even smaller, independent retailers seeing a sudden surge in orders placed online. As such, industry experts are predicting that one of the biggest impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the sector will be forcing many of these smaller, local retailers into occupying a share of the online space. While some commentators are predicting that as soon as restrictions begin to ease consumers will simply slip into their old habits, there is a growing feeling among industry commentators that this is the beginning of a new era for online shopping—one focused around a growing number of independent retailers with an online presence.
In such potentially competitive market conditions it remains to be seen how industry giants such as Amazon will react to this encroachment on their territory. Could this be the death-knell of Amazon and the rise of independent retailers? More than likely not. However, the one thing that does look certain, is that once the restrictions begin to ease, the world that awaits us will not be the same as the one we once knew.
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