Last year the shopping streets were still packed in the days before Christmas and Sinterklaas. At peak times there were as many as 900 debit card transactions per second, and cash payments were added to that. But the corona virus could make things look very different this year, especially now that we have discovered massive web shopping.
“People are more reluctant to walk around a shopping street,” says retail expert Kitty Koelemeijer. And that puts considerable pressure on the delivery services and web shops.
In recent years there have always been peaks at times such as Black Friday or the days before Christmas, but this year parcel deliverers will have to take into account much higher and, above all, much longer peaks. It can be busy for weeks. “The trick for web shops now is to keep it up all this time.”
Just click on something and put it in your basket seems simple, but at that moment a huge chain will start working. “If something goes wrong in one link, such as online payments, you are immediately left with a huge queue.”
And what about food for the holidays? You can buy gifts in advance, it is difficult to stock up on a gourmet dish in mid-November. Supermarkets are currently fully committed to their delivery services, but by far the most food is still bought in the shops, says Koelemeijer.
“Food is really about retail sales, so high demands are placed on the stores.” Supermarkets must keep the shelves full and avoid crowds. This demands something from shops, but also from customers. “As a consumer, you have to take into account that a store is sometimes full. Then you have to wait or choose a different time.” Time slots for delivery are also likely to fill up very quickly.
Package to your house
However the corona virus develops, this year will be different from other years anyway. Web stores such as Bol.com and Coolblue are therefore busy with the preparations. Bol.com has various scenarios for this, says a spokesperson. For example, it could be that certain products, which are more urgent, will soon be given priority.
But not only the web stores will be busy, delivery services such as DHL, PostNL and UPS will soon have to work hard to get all packages to your front door. For example, PostNL will be deploying extra trucks and a thousand extra deliverers from mid-November.
By then the company will also be operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As a result, PostNL alone can sort and deliver 1.5 million parcels per day during the holiday season.
PostNL has also made agreements with online stores that they spread their discount campaigns much more. So no longer one Black Friday, but a week in turn discounts on products. “You can already see it, there are constant offers,” says Koelemeijer.
“Now it’s household appliances, something else next week.” So if you want something to give as a present, you will have to keep an eye on online stores to score a nice discount.
No busy shopping areas
The physical stores also want to prevent the crowds from concentrating on a few days. “Black Friday can last a whole week this year,” says Jeroen Rozen of Leiden. He is from the Centrummanagement Utrecht foundation, and is already thinking hard about how to shop safely in the coming months. Shops are taking measures for this, but the foundation also hopes that people will not all go into the city at the same time.
“It starts with awareness,” he says. For example, people will have to shop longer in advance and visit the shops at off-peak hours. “Normally people do a lot last minute, but then this year the space is gone.” The foundation also hopes that shops can stay open longer to spread the crowds more.
According to retail expert Koelemeijer, people have already started shopping a lot more consciously than for corona, so she expects people to choose a more targeted shopping moment around the holidays. “People also go more to smaller shops, such as a specialty store, greengrocer or baker. Then you not only support small shops, you also spread the crowds.”