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UK manufacturers enjoying boost from sales direct to customers

More than half of all consumers are buying products direct from manufacturers rather than through traditional stores or online retailers, according to a new report.

Researchers found the rise in shoppers heading straight to the makers of their favourite products could give a 25% boost to the UK manufacturing sector within three years.

The report by Barclays Corporate Banking says direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales could hit £120 billion by 2023 from £96 billion, and help create 118,000 new jobs in the growing sector.

A survey of shoppers found 57% now frequently go direct to manufacturers, with most believing they will get a better price and better service.

Around a third added buying direct is a conscious decision to support the UK manufacturing sector, which has taken an average 26% hit to revenues during the pandemic.

The most popular items include clothes, electronics and food and drink, the survey found, followed by household appliances and furniture.

As a result, around 13% of UK manufacturers have already invested in opening up D2C offerings, spending £288,000 on average, with 45% of those recruiting new staff.

New job opportunities

The report added there could be as many as 118,000 new job roles supported by D2C sales across the next three years – rising from 500,000 in 2020 to 618,000 in 2023.

The shift is also expected to benefit logistics firms, with around half of annual revenues expected to be in the D2C field over the next three years, compared with 39% this year.

Lee Collinson, head of manufacturing, transport and logistics at Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “2020 has been a turbulent year for all industries and the manufacturing sector is no different.

“However, the increasing demand to procure goods direct from the companies that make them is providing growth opportunities and confidence for manufacturers of all sizes.

“D2C sales will help manufacturing firms increase their earnings and protect and create jobs in the next three years: that’s a welcome shot in the arm not only for the industry, but also for the wider UK economy.”