GERMANY, Cologne. Online marketers of food have rarely reacted to the strong increase in demand in the wake of the corona pandemic by expanding this sales channel.
This is the result of a recent German study conducted by Prof. Peter Dannenberg of the Institute of Geography and Prof. Martina Fuchs of the Institute of Economic and Social Geography at the University of Cologne. According to secondary sources, there was disproportionately high growth in online food retailing in March 2020.
Fuchs reveals, however, online food retailing was not able to benefit even more from this growth during the period under review because the relevant capacities of the companies were limited. Another reason was the consumption patterns of customers. "For many people, food shopping in particular is an important experience that appeals to sensual experiences such as feeling the goods. It is also a social experience, which was particularly important during the 'stay home' measures," he explained.
According to the study, both larger and smaller online marketers of food rarely expanded their delivery area in response to the increase in demand. The unpredictability of the further development of the Covid-19 pandemic was one of the obstacles to expansion. Furthermore, the rules that propagated staying at home for health protection were recognisably short-term. "The food retailers could not foresee that extensive investments would be worthwhile, as a 'return to normality' was on the horizon," said Fuchs.
Dannenberg explained that there had been no upheaval in food retailing despite the 'digitalisation push'. "This is - from a geographical point of view - an important point, especially with regard to the promotion of the supply of rural areas in Germany," the researcher said. The study was published in July 2020 in the journal "Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie".