There is no denying that the Covid-19 global pandemic has changed all facets of life for people across the globe. Healthcare, education, and government have all had to react quickly and in unique ways to protect and serve the public. The retail sector has faced myriad challenges and is now striving to reimagine and redesign their offerings to attract business and stay in the black.
While we are still currently mired in the pandemic, we can look to the long term and make predictions about what are temporary measures, and what are long-lasting consumer behaviour changes.
While some consumers are comfortable going ‘back to normal’ when this crisis has passed, certain changes in attitudes and behaviours will likely become the new normal.
At the height of the lockdown, the only way to get most consumer items was to shop online. This seems to have made a significant impact on consumer behaviour. According to data from ChannelAdvisor and research firm Dynata, two in five (42%) British consumers plan to do the majority of their shopping online, even when lockdown restrictions end.
The lucrative younger consumer demographic plans to shop almost exclusively online, with 59% of those aged 26-35 saying that they prefer to buy both luxury and essential goods online.
Jon Maury, EMEA MD at ChannelAdvisor, says, “Lockdown has driven many consumers online in search of essential and luxury goods, and there are signs that many will continue shopping online, particularly older consumers who tend to have more disposable income.”
Many customers are reluctant to enter enclosed spaces in order to browse and shop. However, with difficulties securing home delivery slots for essentials like groceries and toiletries, many have turned to click-and-collect to secure the items they need without having to step inside the shop. This is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Our grandparents suffered through the Great Depression, World War II, and polio pandemics of the ‘50s, and they knew the value of a penny. They stocked up when staples were on sale, planted gardens, canned preserves, and built up an admirable larder of non-perishable goods.
More and more people are doing the same now, scared by food shortages (who can forget the toilet paper debacle?) and uncertainty. People are attracted to bulk buy offers and multi-buy discounts in order to build their own larders.
Based on the consumer demands listed above and the realities of social distancing and government restrictions, retail businesses will continue to change their business models to adapt and thrive even under duress.
Most medical experts posit that the world will remain in a state of limbo until a vaccine is developed. As a result, lockdowns and social distancing measures will be in effect for the foreseeable future. What does seem inevitable is that retail will be forced to continue to shift and change to survive. As many people now have less discretionary income to spend on toys, electronics, and clothing, will many retailers survive, let alone thrive?
Certain categories are doing a brisk trade, with the cosmetics sector seeing a 140% rise in the first week of April. Similarly, electronics rose 90%, and home and garden rose 70%. It should also come as no surprise that food and alcohol sales have increased, with many brands investing in ‘DIY’ kits and ways to bring the restaurant experience into customers’ homes.
Only time will tell what will happen as the pandemic continues to spread, and fears of second and third waves increase. The only thing for sure is that retail will have to continuously adapt to stay relevant and financially viable.
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Gillil, N. (2020). How is coronavirus impacting the retail industry? [online] Econsultancy. Available at: https://econsultancy.com/how-is-coronavirus-impacting-the-retail-industry/.
Stewart, H. (2020). Boris Johnson ditches 2m physical distancing rule in England for “1m-plus.” The Guardian. [online] 23 Jun. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/23/boris-johnson-ditches-2-metre-rule-in-england-for-1-metre-plus-coronavirus [Accessed 23 Jun. 2020].
Strick, K. (2020). 10 London restaurant suppliers now delivering food boxes to your door. [online] Evening Standard. Available at: https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/restaurants/london-restaurant-wholesaler-suppliers-home-delivery-food-coronavirus-a4404956.html [Accessed 24 Jun. 2020].
Waller, A. and Clayson, J. (2020). The Future of Retail: How The Coronavirus Is Changing Shopping Habits. [online] www.wbur.org. Available at: https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/05/01/retail-coronavirus-pandemic-shopping.
Walton, C. (2020). The Domino Effect: 5 Ways Coronavirus Will Forever Change Retail. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherwalton/2020/04/01/the-domino-effect-5-ways-coronavirus-will-forever-change-retail/#3b21ab66bec3 [Accessed 23 Jun. 2020].
James Birch is the sales and marketing manager at Colour Graphics. He is an expert in quality printed marketing materials
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