Sardar M Imran

For many online shops, these are unprecedented times. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in our country, online stores have seen their sales skyrocket. In the week of Easter there was even a plus of 72 percent. That comes down to tens of millions of euros more turnover than in the same week last year.

This is evident from figures from market researcher GfK. “Before corona, many online shops had a growth of 16 or 18 percent, now on 60, 70 percent,” says director Wijnand Jongen of We are talking about webshops in the non-food sector here.

The webshops benefit from the fact that we work and live at home and do our best to stay healthy. “Everything that has to do with DIY, the garden, entertainment like games, is really doing tremendously well,” said Jongen in the NOS Radio 1 News. “Working from home is also generating huge sales, of mice, office chairs, printers, laptops and headphones, for example. Some online stores are not getting it.”

But web stores dealing with tourism and vacations are actually experiencing dramatic times, and in fashion the picture is mixed. For luxury clothing, consumers have no interest for a while, according to Jongen. Pyjamas, sweatpants, underwear and comfortable shoes are sold.

That people buy through the Internet, seems logical. The cabinet still advises people to stay home as much as possible. “We now spend little or no money on the hospitality industry, outings, vacations, but we apparently still feel the need to keep money rolling in. Maybe we want to reward ourselves for good behavior. We’ve been sitting at home for so long, then of course a present is nice.”

Lasting initiative

One of the webshops that notice that people are spending a lot of money is the HEMA. The company saw its online turnover triple in recent weeks. In order to avoid long waiting times at the central distribution center in Utrecht, twenty HEMA stores spread throughout the country will also function as distribution centers. From there, DHL will deliver packages to customers.

“If, for example, someone from Winschoten orders six items, the system looks at which of the affiliated stores has those items in stock. There the order then goes,” says the co-owner of the online webshop Cognition Boosters, which sells supplements and .

He doesn’t think the measure is temporary. “I think we will use this more often when there is peak traffic. Then you have to think of Black Friday and Sinterklaas. If it were up to me, this would be a permanent initiative.”

Total lockdown

At cosmetics chain Rituals (750 stores across Europe), they are also adapting internet distribution. Online sales increased by 300 percent in recent weeks. “All those stores have been closed, a total lockdown. Then you have to be innovative. One of the new initiatives is our ‘express delivery’ approach,” Rituals chief executive Raymond Cloosterman tells NOS.

In the Netherlands, 27 of the 110 Rituals stores participate in the express service. Cloosterman: “In Germany, we have just started a similar test in two stores. The stores operate as a kind of mini distribution center. It is an extra capacity for our webshop. Items ordered by customers in the vicinity are even delivered by bicycle. A kind of VIP service, which we will certainly continue after the corona crisis.”

Extremely convenient

The cardinal question is: will consumers continue to order online en masse once everything is back to ‘normal’? Wijnand Jongen: “I estimate that a quarter will continue to exhibit this new behavior. Someone who, for example, has compiled an entire order list online for a supermarket and now has a fixed time for delivery may find it extremely handy to keep it that way. So I definitely think there are consumers who will do that by default from now on.”

With all the consequences this has for the shopping street and shopping centers: “Yes, because this new behavior will be felt on the street. The consequence will be that fewer people will come there anyway than before.”