The online retailers in Germany are missing boxes. According to a survey, three out of four shippers no longer have enough packaging material for the coming months, reports the Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail Order (BEVH).
The reason for this is the sharp increase in energy prices, which lead to production and delivery restrictions for paper and cardboard. “We know from discussions with the dealers that the majority stocked up in good time – there is talk of a quadrupling of stocks,” says Martin Groß-Albenhausen, deputy general manager of the BEVH. "But if prices continue to rise, even that will no longer be enough."
Almost a quarter of the companies surveyed between the end of June and the end of August also do not have the financial means to cope with the significantly increased cardboard prices and are therefore working on alternative packaging.
"Some try to reuse cartons or switch to second-hand goods, others are looking for alternative packaging materials such as kraft paper instead of folding cartons," reports Groß-Albenhausen.
However, the fact that the number of orders from online retailers has decreased significantly is currently having a mitigating effect on the shortage.
The boom of the Corona years 2020 and 2021 seems to be over, at least for the time being. According to the Federal Statistical Office, sales in the first half of 2022 were around 1.3 percent below the previous year.
The second quarter in particular was weak with a drop of almost ten percent. In June alone, there was a slump of almost 15 percent and thus the largest monthly loss since the time series began in 1994.
"The consumer shock also affects e-commerce," according to the BEVH. "Given the rising cost of living and energy, Germans are cutting back on goods and services they don't need."
Online shopping has become normal for people, but they cannot escape the general consumer climate and the economy as a whole. There are declines in sales primarily in categories that are also under pressure in brick-and-mortar retail, such as fashion and shoes or furniture and electronic items.
"In the case of purchases that cannot be postponed, however, the development is still normal," says Groß-Albenhausen. Household appliances, medicines and pet supplies, for example, are in demand here.
The Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail Order has received its annual forecast of 111 billion euros. And he doesn't dare to make a new assessment at the moment. Because the effect of inflation on purchasing behavior is also psychologically driven - and this is difficult to predict.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, sales went up again in July, specifically by 5.1 percent compared to the same month last year. However, the experts at the market research institute GfK remain skeptical about the further course of the year and point to a sudden increase in the propensity to save, which is now higher than it has been for eleven years.
And the situation is likely to worsen in the coming months as consumers have to put money aside for sometimes drastically higher energy bills.
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