Covid-19 may have fuelled the online shopping stampede, but it has also been the trigger for a surge in online entrepreneurs, with nearly 16,000 ecommerce businesses created between March and July this year.
So says research carried out by Royal Mail, more than 315,000 companies were incorporated in the UK during lockdown, up 7% from the same period in 2019.
In the second quarter of 2020, from April to June, 176,000 start-ups were recorded, the highest for any second quarter on record.
Royal Mail’s data suggests that the backdrop of a pandemic and ensuing lockdowns prompted a spike in entrepreneurial activity, either out of necessity or opportunity.
The highest rate of new business creation was found to be within online shopping, tapping into the fast-changing pace of consumer behaviour in the UK during 2020.
With a second lockdown for England now due to start this week, many ecommerce start-ups could be put to the test as the UK enters a Christmas shopping season with non-essential retailers forced to close.
Royal Mail chief commercial officer Nick Landon said: “It is very promising to see this level of new business creation. The narrative for businesses during and post lockdown is not one purely of survival, but also of resilience, resurgence, and growth.”
And here comes the pay-off: “The ecommerce sector has seen huge growth this year and at Royal Mail we understand the importance of our parcel services in keeping the UK connected – particularly during such unprecedented times.”
In recent weeks Royal Mail has stepped up its activity in the parcels market, including the new Parcel Collect service, which will see the company start collecting parcels and mail from people’s homes.
It has also launched a marketing campaign to promote the Click & Drop online postage scheme, which enables businesses and consumers to pay online, print off labels and then despatch packages.
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