According to Economic Futurist Daniel Silke eCommerce is now on steroids. He says: “Shopping was heading this way even before the pandemic, but the lockdown gave the move an added sense of urgency to make it more compelling for the consumer.”
Matlou Setati, Executive of the Food Safety Initiative at the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) agrees with him: “There is no doubt that Covid-19 has changed shopping habits.”
As to be expected, regular shopping took a plunge during lockdown. And not a small one: more than 50% in April and 12% in May. Compared to last year, volumes have declined by 11.3%. There was some increase on clothing and footwear (2%) and about 3% on hardware, paint, and glass because people used their time at home to perform some DIY-jobs. Senior Economist at FNB Siphamandla Mkhwanazi expects consumer spending to take a significant knock this year.
The lockdown also changed people’s shopping habits. Dr Mosima Mabunda, Head of Vitality Wellness said: ““We all bought more food. Our data showed an increase in the amount spent and number of items bought. We noted the economic effects – fewer expensive healthy items like nuts and certain fish were bought. They were sometimes swapped for more affordable options.”
Since the government continues to emphasize the importance of social distancing, many retailers have invested in mobile apps enabling them to provide click-and-collect services along with curbside pick-up. This allows the consumers to purchase from the safety and comfort of their homes. We expect more people with access to online capabilities to switch to this alternative shopping channel, in response to both the need to stay home and keep safe.”
Not only shops, also popular restaurant chains like Kentucky Fried Chicken and Nando’s have announced they will be introducing the curbside collection-option. Parcel delivery service Pargo recently launched a new Click and Collect Drive-Through service. People can place online orders at multiple stores after which they can then collect their parcels themselves at a centralized point.
Although many people are looking forward to a more ‘normalized’ environment in which there will be no social or physical restrictions, the pandemic has undoubtedly shifted the mobile consumer journey into a super-fast gear and neither retailers nor shoppers will be willing to give up the gains made in speed and convenience. “
CEO of Lontana Apparel in Gardens, Robert Sim said: “Traditional bricks and mortar retail for small to medium sized retailers is under attack on multiple fronts, not just from e-commerce. The cost on staff, housing et cetera have risen above inflation. Regional shopping centers prove to be non-viable and just shut down.”
Online shopping turned out to be the perfect solution for many South African shoppers who have desperately sought out safe and secure shopping alternatives amidst this strange new world of Covid-19. In the past, fashion, travel, and entertainment were the frontrunners in online shopping. Now, grocery and pharmaceutical sales are also spiking.