Is This the Year of Retail Positivity?
5 January 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters
As we have touched on and have overwhelmingly experienced, 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges and change. Many of us probably think we know them like the back of our hand. However, what our knowledge of the last year can hint at is the possibility of a more structured, predictable year ahead. Here are a few possibilities of how 2021 could be hold a much more positive outlook for small and independent retailers.
How can we be positive?
As we’ve seen play out before us, the resilience of retail and those within it has been nothing short of remarkable. According to Retail Sector, there’s now an increasing surge of data to show that the industry could well be on the cusp of an upward spark, particularly now many brands have developed into lean and adaptable versions of their pre-pandemic selves. There’s been a major rethinking of how consumers are going to be spending their time while largely at home and requiring different wants and needs. Regardless of the continued levels of uncertainty, there’s no doubt that brands and business and generally better prepared. Although UK footfall fell by about 65% on average, the dip was far smaller than analysts expected. The fact that sales remained 2.6% above those in February through to the November lockdown is not only impressive, but a shining light on the omnichannel strategy many brands have embraced. This again looks to be a winning path into the next year, making sure businesses remain relevant and keep customer connections at the core.
What do we need to remember?
Although many of us find ourselves once again under some kind of national restrictions, the shining light at the end of the tunnel is the pent-up demand for physical retail. Some feel as though the ‘death’ of the physical has been exaggerated, as footfall increased by 20% following on from the second lockdown. Of course, this comes with the balance of those that feel cautious to enter a store. This – along with the growing want for a personal touch – as an area that the independent brand can excel in. Unlike bigger names who may have to adhere to generalised protocol, small businesses have the ability to build stronger personal excitement while having more flexibility to introduce and change safety measures. Whilst we wait for vaccine rollouts, it follows on that many consumers intend to shop with a greater purpose. If somebody is going to make the trip into the physical retail world, they’ll want to be ticking as many things of their list as they can. We know that localised services will be favoured and that expanding product ranges to be a ‘one-stop shop’ are fantastic ways to stay ahead of demand. Consumers will actively be looking to support their local high street or smaller brands where there is greater transparency and a higher moral benefit.
2021 will be a key time to grab hold of the need for ‘in-person’ contact where it can’t necessarily happen. Trends have noticed a rise in need of a trusted sales expert, providing that missing guidance and advice. There is currently an increase in sales following consumer access to product demonstrations, leading us to believe there is a missing in providing reasons why we need a certain product. Recommendations look to be a priority going forward, and a human voice (or face) will be preferred when searching for answers. We know that we can respond and adapt quickly – it’s been shown time and time again over the last few months. Carrying this momentum while keeping our eye on what is needed could hopefully lead to a Happy New Year after all.
Image source: https://retail.economictimes.indiatimes.com/