Amidst the many things that shall take a turnaround, shopping habits of consumers are likely to be the one that shall govern how retailers are required to transform their operations. The lockdown in the pandemic era has compelled people to become more conscious for health and safety and stay at home.
Following the directions of the government, the people have been staying behind closed doors and have been shopping online or are going out for buying things only if they are necessary.
New Zealand has already moved to alert Level 3 of the lockdown from alert level 4 to reopen the parts of its economy. With an aim to lessen close contact among the people, New Zealand now plans to move to the alert level 2 which has been intended to put the best possible number of people back to work as well as move the economy back up and running but in the securest manner.
For six weeks now, the lives of people in New Zealand have been quite different since people have been staying indoors and practising social distancing while being out. Shopping habits have seen a dramatic turnaround with a great shift towards online shopping. While people have been told to maintain strict social distance, policies at stores have also changed, and people who can order online are preferring to get their supplies delivered at the doorstep while being at home.
However, not everything is being delivered on time. Many people ordering stuff online were facing problem in getting their items delivered on time. Some have been waiting for over ten days to receive the items they ordered online. This may be due to the abrupt spike in the online orders as well as lack of workforce on the ground to deliver the huge number of orders flooding in.
Let us look at some of the stocks listed on NZX.
Online Sales Surge for KMD
Kathmandu Holdings Limited (NZX:KMD) witnessed a surge in online sales and staged reopening of stores as well as digital engagement during the month of April 2020 with sales being 2.5 to 3 times higher as compared to last year, with the highest growth rates in Australia.
The Company believes that its ability to rapidly ramp up online trading capabilities and distribution capacity in the face of unprecedented online demand has been underpinned by its investments in digital infrastructure and supply chain over the last three years.
Moreover, the Company has plans to reopen its closed physical stores; however, Kathmandu and Rip Curl stores have reopened on a trial basis, with robust safety protocols in place in Australia.
KMD looks forward to tapping the opportunity to answer the needs of our brands’ core consumers while maintaining a strategy focused on brand, product and customer, and continuing to diversify the business and speed up digital transformation.
MHJ Steering Focus On Digital Business
Another retailer, Michael Hill New Zealand Limited (NZX:MHJ) has implemented several initiatives to continue trade online as well as in bricks and mortar store when store trading re?commences in Australia, New Zealand as well as Canada.
During the period of January and February 2020, the Company witnessed store sales growth of +3.1% for the first nine weeks of FY20Q3, against prior year as positive sales growth was maintained throughout January and February.
Online sales through the Michael Hill website were up by 49.1% for the quarter, indicating 3.6% of quarterly sales for the Company and in response to the impact of COVID?19 on trading conditions, the Company had temporarily suspended store trading in March in all markets.
MHJ has not provided any update on its business in the time of lockdown; however, orders have been continuously accepted on its New Zealand e?commerce site with delivery delayed until New Zealand Government restrictions were lifted.
MHJ has been actively focused on its e?commerce business and is testing several initiatives to boost its digital sales and capabilities, like interactive digital catalogues and direct selling.
CEO of Michael Hill International Limited, Daniel Bracken said that:
“The business entered the crisis on a strong footing in all markets and channels”
“The crisis has afforded us the ability to really focus on our digital business, and we will emerge with a much bigger and stronger offering”
He further added:
“A crisis always creates opportunities ? the combination of strong performance leading into the crisis and the decisive actions we are taking to preserve cash and strengthen our balance sheet will leave us well-positioned to lead the market through the recovery period and, we will emerge as a stronger, leaner, and more agile business”
Briscoe Group Witnessed Surge in Online Sales
Briscoe Group Limited (NZX:BGP) had its unaudited sales, for the first trading quarter ended 26 April 2020, as NZ$ 97.0 million which is 35.6% lower than the NZ$ 150.6 million achieved for the same quarter of last year. However, Group sales grew by 4.2% while trading for the first quarter till and comprising 24 March 2020 (past COVID-19 Alert Level 4) over the same period during the previous year.
The Company witnessed double online demand during the Level 4 period and was able to offer a condensed range of essential items during the time. Moreover, the Company is hopeful for the growth in online sales because now it will be able to offer the full range of products available at:
- Briscoes Homeware
- Living & Giving
- Rebel Sport
BGP is actively engaged in assessing all aspects of the business to minimise the impact of COVID-19 since there exists uncertainty till the time store closures continue as well as the continuing economic and social implications due to COVID-19.
In times when businesses are speeding up their digital network in an attempt to set off the decline of the in-store sales, consumers look like in a state of mix. Although online ordering and delivery of items are open, yet people have to wait for very long durations to receive their ordered items. It shall be interesting to see whether the customers will keep shopping online or will get back to brick and mortar store shopping, especially those who like to buy things after checking them.