The impact of the lockdown on the livelihoods of Brits continues to be felt across the board, with many setting up a permanent office at home as they prepare to work remotely for longer, according to new data from commerce experience firm Bloomreach.
Searches for office desks and chairs surged in July 2020 as Brits decided to improve the comfort of their makeshift remote offices. The surge coincides with many large employers deciding to reopen their offices only partially or have them remain closed for the foreseeable future as the country grapples with a potential second wave of COVID-19.
The rise in searches has proved a boon for the home furnishings segment. The category’s unexpected revenue boost is in stark contrast to the same period a year ago, reaching +48.3% Year-on-Year. This is significantly higher than the average increase in online sales in the UK of +11.7% YoY.
The good fortune of the home furnishings segment has spelt bad luck for the B2B sector, which traditionally handles office equipment purchases through companies. The dramatic drop in sales, down 34.5% YoY, can be attributed to the wider struggles of entire industries, from lower orders for catering and food supplies from the restaurant industry, to lesser demand for manufactured goods resulting in fewer workers in factories.
Commenting on the findings, Bloomreach’s CSO and former industry analyst Brian Walker says: “We are now entering a new phase where we can start to assess the long-lasting impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the British economy. The past few months have seen a dramatic change in retail habits with consumers of all ages moving to eCommerce for both essential and non-essential products. This shift to an online-first, convenience-focused mind-set is now bleeding into the world of work as many Brits find a solution to the makeshift remote working setup they created in a hurry in March.
Our relationship to and the notion of the office has radically changed, with many employers acknowledging that they don’t need a centralised office to achieve their business objectives. In a surprising twist, this is challenging professional services companies to offer the same high quality, consumer-grade experience shoppers are accustomed to in their personal lives. As the lines between real and virtual, and work and pleasure blur even further, now is the time to act on this and create digital experiences that can truly rival professional services companies’ newest competitors: home furnishings specialists.”