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Retail: lockdown for the long term?

As we approach the end of the sixth week in lockdown, thoughts begin to turn to a relaxing of restrictions and our first non-essential visit outside of the house. 

According to a recent survey by Retail Economics, it won't be to the high street. With only 9.8% of respondents saying they will return to normality once restrictions are eased, many appear reluctant to take a trip to the shops post-lockdown. This will no doubt be of concern to many retailers who are awaiting the green light to re-open their doors.  

The ability to shop online has become crucial during the pandemic and, although online retail was already a growing trend, the need for retailers to have an improved online presence has no doubt been accelerated by Covid-19. Along with smaller independent retailers, some larger companies, such as Primark, are yet to make the move to sell their products online. Yet with many competitors offering free delivery and orders arriving within days, consumers will be used to the ease of shopping from the comfort of their own homes.  

It is therefore vital that retailers invest in innovation to offer consumers an accessible website to shop online whilst still offering a great shopping experience, ensuring visits to their website over competitors.  

Choosing the right technology is not the only challenge facing those yet to make the move online. Retailers’ websites must be secure and protect customer data in accordance with data protection legislation. Terms and conditions of sale will need to be reviewed to ensure compliance with regulations covering online sales. In addition, new contracts may need to be negotiated with logistics companies to deliver orders to customers.  

It remains to be seen whether retailers can tempt shoppers off the internet and back into stores once government-imposed restrictions are eased. What is certain is that online shopping is here to stay and innovation in this area is key for future success in the retail sector.

Just one in 10 consumers is planning to resume spending and travelling as they did before, if restrictions ease off early next month, according to a survey by Retail Economics

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