E-shops in the Czech Republic are gearing up for Black Friday, the first major load test ahead of the Christmas shopping frenzy. E-shops are becoming increasingly popular with clients and this year their sales figures are expected to cross the 100 billion mark for the first time ever.
As Christmas approaches E-shops are racing against time to meet increasing demand. Most are taking on an army of seasonal helpers and introducing three shifts to deliver goods on time ahead of the Christmas holidays. Sales events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and select days when deliveries are free of charge are intended to jump-start the shopping fever ahead of Christmas.
On Black Friday alone Mall.cz is expected to package 75 thousand purchases and is taking on a third more employees for the month of December. Notino has upped its 400 regular employees to a thousand for the next four weeks and will be delivering 240,000 packages in the coming days.
E-sales have become increasingly popular with Czechs and e-shops have seen their sales almost double in the past five years – from 51 billion crowns in 2012 to 98 billion crowns last year. This year they should easily cross the 100 billion mark – with estimates putting them at around 115 billion. Christmas alone should see e-sales of around 38 billion crowns. Last year e-shops had 9.5 percent of the market and this year they should get over 11 percent.
The number of E-shops on the market saw a peak in 2014 when there were over 37,000 of them competing for attention. Despite a slight drop since, to just over 36,000 last year, the e-market is still highly overcrowded. Experts predict many mergers not just among e-shops but also with stone and mortar stores which then serve as delivery points and a home base for e-shops.
Meanwhile, stone and mortar shops are making an all-out effort to fight the growing competition particularly around the holidays, bringing down the price of their products to almost the equivalent of what they would cost in an e-shop and offering special sales discounts. Some are trying to offset the growing pressure by setting up e-sales of their own, such as the discount store Lidl which is offering clothes and gardening equipment online. Tesco which sells food products online has 430,000 registered clients. Globus has an online select wine shop.
The fact that shopping online has become safer and more secure is a big factor in people’s decision to shop online as is the fact that, at the click of a mouse, they can compare prices in different internet shops and select what suits them best without having to join the Christmas rush in stone and mortar shops and conduct their own price survey.
Books, perfumes, clothes and toys are the most frequent goods ordered online and market experts predict that the selection will gradually expand and, as in the United States, the pressure on stone and mortar shops will steadily increase putting many of them out of business.