The rail strikes that started today and will be repeated on Thursday and Saturday, combined with Tube strikes, aren’t going to help the economy as thousands of workers revert to pandemic measures and stay at home.
And it’s not just strike days that are impacting the country’s travel network, train cancellations started yesterday evening and after a rail strike it always takes a day to get going again as the running stock will be in the wrong place to commence the following day’s service.
The one ray of sunshine, in addition to the weather, is that with people not spending time on their daily commute as they work from home, there’s that much more time for them to look around their homes and perhaps wander into the garden for a coffee break and think about shopping online. Many will have simply given up on the idea of going to work and taken the decision to work from home for the entire week…. unthinkable a few years ago but multiple lockdowns have taught us we don’t have to all be in the office to get work done.
Rail strikes, and indeed strikes in multiple industries, are likely to be a regular occurrence this year. We’ve already seen Post Office strikes and everyone from BT to Royal Mail are likely to be impacted as the year progresses. The driver of the strikes is nominally around pay rises and that they’re either not happening or they are well short of inflation and so in real terms everyone is worse off. That’s all the excuse Unions need to call their workers out on strike.
The reality is that in both the private and public sector, business can’t afford to pay wages that keep pace with the economy, even with the shortage or workers and record job vacancies. As always it’s the lower paid who will suffer most through real terms pay cuts (even if they get small pay raises), and it’s the same lower paid workers who will suffer most through rail strikes – they are often in jobs which require physical presence and can’t work from home.
As online retailers, we can’t solve the countries problems and indeed we may well have our own today with pickers and packers unable to get into the warehouse or turning up late due to the transport crisis. It’s worth monitoring sales however and if you spot products with unusually high sales patterns it’s likely to be people working from home doing a little recreational shopping. To take full advantage, consider increasing advertising spend, especially over the next rail strikes, someone at least should benefit from the disruption and it may as well be you.