UK In-Store Pickup Demand Surges Ahead of Christmas Holiday

As Christmas nears, U.K. shoppers are turning to in-store pickup to beat the Christmas rush.

Whether it’s gifts for loved ones or holiday grocery shopping, consumers in the U.K. have the option to order online and pick up in-store, but in general, they’re among the least likely to do so.

As revealed in the “2022 Global Digital Shopping Playbook: U.K. Edition,” a PYMNTS and Cybersource collaboration, only 10.4% of U.K. shoppers reported collecting their last online order in-store, below the 13.7% average and the lowest of any of the six countries surveyed.

But this holiday season, at least one retailer is experiencing a surge in demand for the service. The grocery store Morrisons recently added more than 150,000 click-and-collect slots at its stores across the U.K., while at the same time, cutting the cost to consumers who choose the option.

Although PYMNTS’ data shows that Brits have a lower preference for in-store collection than elsewhere, it also reveals that they are the most likely to order online for home delivery. In fact, U.K. shoppers’ preference for at-home delivery is 10% higher than average, with grocery shopping top of the list.

One 2022 consumer survey found that 60% of British shoppers buy at least some of their groceries online, with 16% ordering all or most of them via the internet.

But in terms of in-store collection, the U.K. still has a long way to go to catch up with the 25% of shoppers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who picked up their most recent eCommerce purchase in-store, for example.

Get the report: 2022 Global Digital Shopping Index: UAE Edition

But despite that gap highlighted in PYMNTS’ research, this Christmas gives the U.K. a chance to catch up, as the Morrisons case shows.

Christmas Deliveries Strain Postal Services

Away from groceries, click-and-collect has an additional appeal for gift shoppers at a time of year when mail services are stretched. In 2022, the seasonal strain has been worsened by a series of postal worker strikes that have caused Royal Mail to bring its final posting dates for Christmas forward by about a week.

Anyone counting on the national postal service to deliver those last-minute gifts may now have to reconsider, as Royal Mail has warned that packages sent using its first class service after Dec. 16 may not arrive in time.

And Royal Mail isn’t the only courier in the country experiencing delays.

The discount online retailer Poundshop was recently forced to put the brakes on new orders after unexpected demand caused a backlog with its delivery partner DPD. In a message announcing the pause, Poundshop warned that it can’t guarantee orders placed after Dec. 12 will be delivered in time for Christmas.

The Rise of Click-and-Collect Lockers

With the county’s delivery services facing ongoing difficulties, click-and-collect lockers present a more streamlined way of distributing goods to consumers.

One such locker operator, Collect+, reported that it experienced an 81% jump in U.K. parcel traffic over Black Friday week, with almost 900,000 more packages being received or returned using its locker network compared to the same period last year.

As a carrier-agnostic service, Collect+ lockers can be used to collect, return or send packages with many international delivery services, including FedEx, DHL and DPD. At the same time, Collect+ has also built direct relationships with Amazon and eBay to enable marketplace shoppers to pick up their online orders from a local locker.

In the Netherlands, PostNL is also branching out into the carrier-agnostic model, having announced in October that it will open up its locker network to other delivery services in 2023.

In a sign that Dutch consumers are embracing the convenience of PostNL’s 24/7 locker service, the company also said that it intends to more than triple the number of locker locations it operates to 1,500 by 2024.


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