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A new basket case

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You don’t need me tell you that online retailers have been the big winners in this pandemic. The number of vans I see pulling up on my street every hour is bewildering. How can people need so much stuff?

It also, as an aside, means that the world’s governments need to come together pretty smartish to ensure they close the loopholes allowing international companies to wriggle out of paying the same tax as local bricks and mortar stores. Plenty of shops are going to disappear from our high streets and, now of all times, we can’t afford to kiss goodbye to the tax take.

That doesn’t apply to food shopping, but it too has migrated online at a remarkable rate. It now accounts for 13 per cent of grocery sales, up from 7 per cent last year. The reasons are obvious, but the impetus doesn’t really matter – it’s how the new habit is going to stick that counts, and the signs are clear. A recent survey found 39 per cent of us intend to do more shopping online simply because we’ve become used to it.

Personally, while I’m happy to buy a new vacuum cleaner with the click of a mouse, I don’t like online food shopping. I’m too fussy to allow someone else to pick out my fruit and veg, and the no-shows really irritate me (had I known the pine nuts wouldn’t be coming, for example, I probably wouldn’t have ordered three packets of basil).

But my lone voice is lost in the wind. Online groceries will soon become the norm.

So how’s that going to affect your roles? If we’re buying different, perhaps we’ll have to start promoting different too. Because if you think supermarkets are already good at pushing us into making the purchases they want us to make – high-value items stocked at eye-level, impulse purchases in the sought-after end-of-aisle gondolas – wait until they can add internet logarithms to their arsenal.

It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shapes up.


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