Midland Pallet Trucks, a UK leader in the provision of quality materials handling equipment such as high lift pallet trucks, drum loaders, and machinery jacks to warehouses across the country, is warning that in addition to making changes for COVID-secure reopenings, retailers will also need to ensure that they’re taking necessary measures to prepare for a new kind of holiday shopping season.

While the shift to digital spending has been rising consistently over recent years, research by Google suggests that those doing the majority of their holiday shopping online this year will increase by around 13% from 2018 figures as shoppers actively seek contact-free purchasing opportunities. This looks set to spark a need for retailers to rethink their inventory and stock strategies, making more use of off-site warehouses or on-site storage facilities which can offer rapid, direct-from-store delivery options.

The changes are expected to affect small businesses significantly, particularly those with minimal capacity for storage. According to Google, 67% of shoppers plan to buy more from small, local businesses this year, highlighting the urgent need to be fully prepared.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has already had a massive effect on the retail sector, and it appears that this effect is evolving due to the long term changes that are expected to take place at the consumer end of the equation,” said Midland Pallet Trucks Managing Director Phil Chesworth. “Warehouse space will become a more vital consideration than ever, however, with capacity still at record limits from Brexit-related stockpiling, it’s not so much space as it is optimisation of space that will be key to surviving the new kind of holiday shopping season in a Post-COVID future.”

Chesworth is referring to the actions taken by manufacturers and retailers earlier in the year, opting to stockpile goods from the European Union before new tariffs are implemented as Britain leaves the EU at the end of 2020. Warehouse capacity was noted as being at an all time high, suggesting that those businesses keen to increase inventory at warehouses and storage facilities in preparation for the holiday shopping season should be considering ways to better optimise space through key equipment.

He added, “The use of appropriate, high quality handling equipment not only allows for the available space to be better utilised, but also works to streamline manual processes for improved efficiency while simultaneously providing workers with the tools they need to remain safe in challenging and high risk conditions.”

The need to prepare may be more urgent than retailers think. With Christmas still four months away, many retailers have not yet finalisedtheir holiday season strategies. However, with Google reporting that 68% of shoppers are intending to begin their shopping earlier than ever in an effort to avoid crowds and try to maintain suitable social distancing, warehousing and inventory storage should be a top priority.

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