Belfast Telegraph

Online giant eBay hits high street for Christmas

By David Elliott, Business Editor

Online shopping's dominance in our lives grows by the day – and this Christmas, more of us than ever will log on to sites like Amazon to buy our presents.

And two major developments in retail – combing online and bricks and mortar – underline just how crucial it is for businesses to remain realistic about the extent of shoppers' appetites for the traditional high street trek.

Auction site eBay is joining forces with retailer Argos in a trial allowing shoppers to collect their online purchases from its stores in the UK, though it's not yet clear if Northern Ireland will be part of the trail.

Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco have long been offering a click and collect service to their customers – and it shows encouragingly realistic thinking by Argos owner Home Retail Group that it is teaming with an internet behemoth like eBay, viewed by most as a threat more than a bedfellow.

Devin Wenig, president of eBay, said: "The distinction between offline and online shopping continues to blur. Traditional retail isn't going away, it is transforming. Smart retailers are innovating, reimagining the store and what it means to shop."

Meanwhile, online retailer Amazon has announced it is hiring more than 15,000 seasonal staff across the UK to meet customer demand for comedy DVDs, slippers and toys.

Their Yuletide recruitment bonanza represents more than the numbers which Tesco (6,000) and Asda (7,000) combined to took on last year UK-wide, though it matches Sainsbury's Christmas hire in 2012.

On its busiest pre-Christmas day last year, 3.5m items were ordered at a rate of 44 items a second, demonstrating just how many of its rivals are fighting a tough battle when trying to compete.

Like many retailers who take on extra staff at Christmas, Amazon said it hopes some of its Christmas elves can remain with the business after the Christmas tree has come down.

With any luck, a new recruit won't just be for Christmas.

Belfast Telegraph

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