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A wrap on 2021

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Darren Smith, Head of Marketing at Southgate Global, packing supplier comments on 2021's retail trends and looks to the future.

2021 has been a momentous year for e-commerce growth as reports predict it is on track to break all the records set in 2020.  As consumers switched from physical to online shopping amid the pandemic, it resulted in a huge spike in the demand for e-commerce. While heightened volumes placed additional pressures on the supply chain, the UK now has the most sophisticated e-commerce market in Europe[1].

Values for October 2021 accounted for 27% of all UK expenditure – 8% higher than the levels achieved in February 2020 before COVID-19 hit[2]. With Christmas just around the corner, experts predict a strong uplift in sales this season of 8% during November and December, compared to this time last year[3].

Looking ahead to 2022, total online spend is predicted to level out again as the public get back to shopping at a mix of online and offline retailers. E-commerce will, however, continue to be a key theme trending in the sector.

With that in mind, the second issue which continues to dominate is sustainability, as it focuses the packaging industry to look an innovation and issues of the circular economy. With the global climate change conference COP26 just last month and the Plastic Packaging Tax taking affect from April 2022, the need for British companies to lead the way in the creation of sustainable packaging is becoming ever more urgent.

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As an industry leader with a strong sustainability focus, at Southgate we’re continuously looking for ways to invest in new, innovative products for our e-commerce customers which address the sector’s current challenges.                     

In the last 12 months, we have launched the largest number ever of sustainable products from carton sealing, paper mailers and void fill. Due to demand and our commitment to the circular economy, we have decided to introduce sustainable alternatives for all our key product lines.

The decision fell as part of our continuous dedication to expanding our range of products and significantly reducing packaging waste and plastic content. We have noticed that an increasing amount of our customers want us to help them with their own green credentials, as consumers are becoming ever more cautious of their global footprint.

In response, our aim is to make packaging products that meet certain criteria of being sustainable, recyclable, reusable, biodegradable and waste reductive. This way our customers can easily choose packaging they know falls within their own sustainability goals and promises to consumers.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 and after what has been a turbulent year, we are proud to have reported significant growth, nearly doubling turnover. In just one year, we have received a Silver EcoVadis rating, featured for the first time in The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 and expanded our distribution centre space by 60% to respond to rapid growth.

Our mission for 2022 is to continue to invest in our people, brand and most importantly, proactively help e-commerce businesses to remain sustainable, while meeting increased demand. After what has been a year of challenges and change, we look forward to witnessing the industry continue to excel and welcome new, innovative ideas to the forefront.

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