COVID-19 Drives Austrian Retailers To Strengthen Online Presence, Study Finds

By Dayeeta Das
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COVID-19 Drives Austrian Retailers To Strengthen Online Presence, Study Finds

One in three or 33% of Austrian retailers started or strengthened their online presence amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study has revealed.

Conducted by the Handelsverband Österreich (Austrian Trade Association) and the examination and advisory organisation, EY, the survey examined the effect of the pandemic on Austrian trade.

The survey includes interviews of 161 members of the trade association, covering the entire industry across all size classes and product groups ranging from EPUs and SMEs to chain stores.

Most companies had to shift their sales strategy during the crisis and 46% of those surveyed had expanded or were planning to expand their online presence.

'A Wake-Up Call'

Martin Unger, partner, strategy leader and head of consumer goods and retail at EY Austria, said, "Above all for many EPUs and companies with up to nine employees, the past few weeks have been a wake-up call that a professional website with digital services is an effective second mainstay, if possible.


“Fortunately, many jumped into the cold water - too for those who have shied away from online trading for years. Innovations that have been created due to this emergency situation will hopefully continue to be expanded in the future - because the future for many retailers is at least partially on the Internet.”

Increase In Online Orders

Almost three-quarters of retailers (73%) are also anticipating an increase in online orders in the future, the study noted.

Other factors that will have a long term impact on retail and consumer behaviour include focus on regional goods and sustainability.

Unger added, “The fact that more investments are being made in social media advertising and at the same time savings have been made in TV advertising shows that here too the trend is towards online.”


Other Findings

Around 85% of retailers and wholesalers in Austria are expecting an average drop in sales of 32% in 2020, while only 15% are optimistic about growth in sales, the study found.

Around 6% of these retail companies expect to maintain their sales level, while almost 9% expect a slight increase with a majority expecting growth in the range of 11% to 25%.

Rainer Will, managing director of Handelsverband AT, commented, “After a phase with a 100% loss of sales, around 85% of retailers expect sales to decline in 2020 as a whole.

"The planning uncertainty is the biggest problem for us - in terms of purchasing power, but also in terms of the bureaucracy surrounding the payment of state aid must neither last nor ever repeat itself.”


Government Aid

The study also found that a majority of companies (57%) were not happy with the Austrian government's coronavirus aid package, with one in three retailers rating it as ‘not enough’.

The worst assessment of the aid package came from small retailers with annual sales of up to €1 million, while the larger dealers with sales of more than €10 million gave better ratings.

© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Dayeeta Das. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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