• New figures from leading packaging company DS Smith reveals the pandemic surge in online shopping shows no signs of abating despite bricks and mortar shops reopening
  • February 2021 online packaging sales jumped 70.5% from the year before, with a comparative increase remaining up until the end of April
  • Retailers contributed to the highest e-commerce figures, driving a 29.8% increase in January to May 2021 compared to the same period in the previous year, despite Brits hitting the high streetz

New data shows that despite non-essential retail reopening Brits are still splashing the cash online, as the e-commerce lockdown boom shows no sign of subsiding.

Leading sustainable packaging company, DS Smith has revealed that despite bumper results in the period January to May 2020 – which saw a 41.6% increase from the same period in the previous year – orders for its e-commerce offerings went up a further 35.6% in the period between January to May 2021. This demonstrates that the online shopping trend shows no sign of abating, in fact, when UK bricks and mortar opened up again in April 2021, e-commerce saw an 11.7% increase compared to the same month in the previous year.

Chris Murray, Managing Director of DS Smith UK packaging, said “It’s been a tough year for retailers so it’s been gratifying to see that the rise of e-commerce has kept businesses thriving. What is clear is that even though bricks and mortars have reopened, online shopping is going to become a greater part of our lives.

“For many retailers that means adopting a hybrid model and, with the eco-conscious consumer remaining ever more prevalent, it will be those companies that implement sustainable packaging alongside the transformation of their business models that will ultimately succeed. Whether creating bespoke solutions for the online shopping giants or through our ePack store for small businesses, we can help businesses through that change.”

The packaging giant, whose orders are a barometer for which industries and sectors are performing well, has said that pharmaceutical orders saw exponential increase in e-commerce demand as the virus ramped up globally, reporting a staggering 242.2% increase in the period January to May 2021 compared to the previous year. The drinks sector saw an increase in orders by 25.3% in the period January to May 2021 compared to 2020, as people went out to order a well-deserved tipple.

There are positive signs for other sectors too: the automotive industry, for which orders drastically reduced as the first lockdown hit (a 28% decrease across the months January 2020 to May 2020 compared the previous year), grew by 43.58% in January to May 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.  And, retailers, of which there was a 67.4% e-commerce increase in February 2021 compared to the same month the previous year, still saw a 29.8% increase in e-commerce orders in the period January to May 2021 compared to the previous year, despite bricks and mortar stores opening up.

And, as more and more people stayed at home, it seems they were indulging in pampering and continue to do so, with orders to the health and personal care sector growing by 24% in January to May 2021 compared to the same period in the previous year.

In food, there’s further positive signs: even as people return to restaurants, e-commerce food deliveries such as meal kits, have seen a 45% increase in the period January to May 2021, compared to the same period last year, suggesting we’re not giving up cooking at home just yet.

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