Ocado Says Coronavirus Boosting Demand, Website Access Closed Until 21 March
British online supermarket Ocado said growth in the last three weeks was double that of its first quarter, as panicked shoppers stock up on goods ahead of an expected shutdown to tackle the coronavirus.
Customers were also spending more and buying more ambient goods. The government has so far shut schools and advised people to avoid pubs, restaurants and theatres but it has warned it is ready to adopt more stringent measures to curb the outbreak.
Ocado said its guidance for retail revenue growth in full-year 2020 of 10% - 15% was unchanged, at this point, as it believes there is a large element of forward buying, leading to disruption further down the line.
"The impact of higher basket values and order demand, amid growing public concern over the Coronavirus, was limited in the quarter, although this has since picked up significantly and growth in the second quarter is so far double that of the first quarter," Ocado Retail's chief executive, Melanie Smith said.
Increase In Web Traffic
The pioneer of online shopping said it had been forced to stop registrations from new customers and impose a queuing system online after it saw a several hundred percentage increase in web traffic.
Ocado has closed access to its website until 21 March as it struggles to deal with "a simply staggering amount of traffic" because of the coronavirus.
It said on Wednesday that customers will not be able to edit an existing order or book a new delivery for the next few days.
The company said the closure will enable it to carry out essential work that will help to ensure distribution of products and delivery slots is as fair and accessible as possible for all customers going forward.