Online food shopping has seen steady growth within the UK for a number of years, with one in five UK internet users aged 18 and over buying groceries online, according to a YouGov survey conducted in Q3 2019.
However, this has surged with the outbreak of COVID-19, and supermarkets are struggling to keep up with the demand for online orders as shoppers choose to avoid bricks and mortar retail premises.
14.2 percent of UK internet users aged 18+ polled in March admitted that they had increased their online grocery shopping, according to research by RetailX Coronavirus Consumer Confidence Tracker published by Internet Retailing, along with 6.9 per cent of those polled that said they ordered more takeout online.
The demand has created its own problems, with many users left frustrated as they’re left in ‘virtual’ queues which can be thousands of people long, while new customers are seemingly barred from using online services.
Supermarket websites and apps have also taken a hit with many crashing due to the large numbers of traffic using the platforms, with a mid-March Ipsos MORI survey of adults in the UK revealing that more than 40 per cent were buying more supermarket items than they normally would as a result of panic buying across physical and online stores.
Online shoppers forced to search for alternatives has been good news for a plethora of smaller UK firms that might not have benefitted from this new attention, along with restaurants making the change from guests dining in-house to direct-to-home delivery services of meals prepared by chefs.
With the COVID-19 outbreak only getting worse, many UK businesses are fearing the worst about the coming months. However, it’s clear that for the entrepreneurial and resourceful, business specialising with online shops and ecommerce platforms have a much better chance of survival and growth in the days ahead.