The home delivery expert ParcelHero says the Big Three retailers still resisting the opportunities of online sales are finally waving the white flag. Primark, Poundland and B&M clung to store-only sales while all their High Street competitors jumped online, but Covid lockdowns finally woke them up to the e-commerce revolution.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘It has taken a long time but, this month, Primark, Poundland and B&M have woken up and smelt the discounted coffee.
‘Primark has announced it will introduce click & collect on children’s products in 25 stores. Likewise, B&M has launched an online home delivery service on a range of items, eventually extending to around 1,000 products. To complete the trio, Poundland has ended its limited Poundland.com trial and fully launched its nationwide home delivery service, under the brand name Poundshop.com.
‘Back in May 2021, ParcelHero’s analysis was that all three stores had to dip their toes into the waters of online sales very soon, before e-commerce left them in its wake. In the first half of 2021 alone, Primark estimated it had lost a whopping £1.1 billion in sales during lockdown, with Poundland also impacted by the enforced closure of all “non-essential” stores. That was simply giving sales away to their competitors.
‘Classed as an “essential store” during the pandemic, B&M escaped the worst of these problems, but it did announce it would temporarily close 49 smaller outlets as High Street footfall slowed during lockdowns. It has also come to terms with the fact that it is missing out on sales of higher ticket items, such as indoor and outdoor furniture, which shoppers find difficult to transport home from stores.
‘Until this month, B&M and Primark’s websites didn’t allow any online purchases, while the Poundland.com site sold only to a limited number of UK postcodes in the Midlands and north of England. Now shoppers across the UK can buy items for home delivery from bmstores.co.uk and Poundland’s new Poundshop.com site. Poundland purchased the online national discount retailer Poundshop.com in March and is now selling items from its own PEP&CO Home and Wilson & Gregory brands as well as Poundshop items.
‘Primark customers will have to wait a little longer. Its click & collect service will launch towards the end of this year, initially from 25 stores in the northwest of England. The service will offer 2,000 products across clothing, accessories and lifestyle, with around 40% of these items being exclusive to its website.
‘ParcelHero said the writing was on the wall last May, despite Primark stating in January: “We can confirm that it is not in our plans to open an online store”. Indeed, its parent group’s Chief Financial Officer, John Bason, claimed last year: “If you go online, or even click & collect, you’re going to be adding costs… If it’s a £3 item, by the time you’ve picked it and packed it, your profit is gone.”
‘This April, however, Primark launched a revamped website that checks stock levels in local stores for availability, finally announcing this month its click & collect trial to “satisfy unfulfilled demand”.
‘Now that the Big Three holdouts are belatedly dipping their toes in the water, we’d be surprised if any of them leave the pool. It was certainly high time for them to step in and discover the waters of e-commerce are warmer and calmer than the fierce tide the High Street is facing.
‘All UK retailers must align their High Street and online sales to counteract a likely further fall in consumer confidence in the months ahead. ParcelHero’s influential report “2030: Death of the High Street” has been discussed in Parliament. It reveals that, unless retailers develop an omnichannel approach, embracing both online and physical store sales, the High Street as we know it will reach a dead-end by 2030. Read the full report here.