COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated the growth of online retail – and is set to change the face of our high streets forever.

But rather than mourning the losses, it is time to seize and celebrate the vast opportunities for business growth.

That’s the message from one of the UK’s fastest growing online retailers – a company which has risen to the challenge of ‘unprecedented demand’ during the Coronavirus pandemic and seen its sales skyrocket.

Sixty Stores Ltd is a multi-channel e-commerce retailer based in Stratford-upon-Avon, running sites including Sheds.co.uk, Minifridge.co.uk, Personalise.co.uk and Rattangardenfurniture.co.uk.

The surge in demand for garden buildings, home offices, home gyms and garden makeovers saw the company record a huge 113 per cent increase in sales between March and June this year, reaching £15.3 million.

That figure was more than double the £7.1million in sales recorded for the same four-month period in 2019.

It is evidence of the rapid acceleration of ecommerce driven by Covid-19 and the decline of the high street.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that in May online sales accounted for a record 33.3 per cent of all retail.

But, according to Sixty Stores Ltd, our shopping habits were already shifting and are not expected to revert back to the high street even post-pandemic.

Company Director William Letterese says: “Our high streets already look vastly different to the way they did a decade ago and news of store closures from retail giants like John Lewis and Boots are further evidence of a really significant and long-lasting shift in the way we shop”.

“Covid-19 has rapidly accelerated a change that was already underway”

“And while it is undoubtedly heralding a difficult and challenging period for many, our success and the success of the UK’s ecommerce industry show it’s not all bad news for jobs or the economy.

“The demand for retail remains high – and it’s about seizing that opportunity now.”

Sixty Stores Ltd is on track for a record annual turnover of £23 million this year.

“As soon as we entered lockdown, consumers who wouldn’t usually shop online were left with no alternative,” Mr Letterese added.

“And that signals a big change going forward – the fact that people who were previously perhaps wary of doing things like banking or shopping online, have now seen the benefits.

“We quickly saw unprecedented demand across our ecommerce stores, particularly in the home and garden sector, with a surge in sales for summerhouses, sheds, home offices, home gyms, home refrigeration and garden furniture. It has undoubtedly been challenging at times, but we have a great team, which we look forward to expanding as business continues to grow.”

Sixty Stores Ltd was established in 2011 with the primary focus of creating a group of market leading online retail sites. The aim now is to increase product ranges and expand further into the garden and home markets.