As we entered 2020, with Brexit finally done and a new future ahead of us, as an economy there were green shoots of recovery and signs of growth – the media coverage of the high street however was all doom and gloom. We had all heard that Retail was on the brink of collapse and that Pure Play and E-Commerce was the only way up.
Wind forward to 23rd March 2020, stay home, protect the NHS, and order online should have been the Government’s motto as that’s what we all did as the UK entered the first of its national lockdowns – we had to as we had no choice! Yet, for those retailers lucky enough to have been classed as ‘essential retail’, we have heard that these past 12 months have been crazy. Sales are up and footfall is through the roof – Why? Because consumers like to touch, feel, and interact with products. High street retail remains a social experience.
We have missed the hustle and bustle of jostling for room to gain access to the ‘sale’ rail
There is no doubt in my mind that as we start to emerge from this unique experience, from the 12th of April through to the 21st of June we will see an explosion in the need for people to want to shop, have a beer and dine out! No more knocks at the door from an online purchase, or delivery of a sneaky take out, or in some cases just food! We know that people, like you and I, are starved of browsing and interacting – we have missed the hustle and bustle of jostling for room to gain access to the ‘sale’ rail and want to touch and feel the items I am going to buy!
That said, however, we are now all a lot smarter (well, we think we are). We will undoubtedly remain anxious about Covid for some time to come, so as retailers, hospitality and service providers reopen their doors a new way of trading – safely, smartly, and carefully – to accommodate the demand of nervous ‘shoppers and browsers’ will be upon us. As an industry, we need to get ‘smarter.
The world of compliance was introduced many years ago, for those that remember BS5750 (showing my age!), trading standards and more recently GDPR, new COVID restrictions and rules to ensure trading environments are ready and safe to trade could well be an overhead some businesses will struggle to carry, however, it does not need to be that way. Simple checks, compliance, communication, and engagement in all areas of our business, with tools to assist in these things are at the fingertips of those that do, will and can – all in context and relevant to what everyone does – as a toolset this is all available today.
Personally, I am looking forward to the nuclear demand that is pent up post lockdown! I know that for many people, the High Street is exactly where they will be heading, and probably having a beer to relish their purchases and newly formed plans afterwards – You never know, it might turn out Covid saved the high street because as the saying goes, you really don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone – the truth, however, is you knew what you had, you just never thought you’d lose it.
This blog post was written by Karen Dyke, CEO of RMS – drop Karen a line directly with your thoughts and to hear more about how Metro can help your business