Sean Hand – Senior Account Manager at Spreckley
Like most sectors, retail has taken a severe hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Store closures have dealt a body blow to an already beleaguered high street, with a growing slew of administration cases perhaps being an indicator of this impact.
That said, this period of upheaval has also presented an opportunity for some retailers to express their creativity and evolve rapidly to meet changing customer demand, while taking extra steps to keep their employees safe. These businesses are the ones that will spearhead the sector’s recovery.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been digging around to find out more about what the real success stories are in this respect. I’ve mentioned a few below.
A new era for safety
It’s fair to say that any trip to your local supermarket at the moment is a little bit of a different experience. Widespread measures are in place to help maintain social distancing, including limits on the number of people in store, one-way systems, and plastic screens to separate employees from customers. Amazon has also forged ahead with an aggressive advertising campaign promoting its increased emphasis on worker welfare in its warehouses.
It might not be as swift an experience as we’re used to, but this renewed appreciation for safety will surely stand the retail sector in good stead for its recovery, even after the bulk of social distancing restrictions have been lifted.
Creativity and community
Creative approaches to the crisis have also given many companies the opportunity to form stronger connections with the communities they serve, as well as do their bit to help the wider national effort. Some of the major examples include brewing companies converting to hand sanitiser production, or motor racing manufacturers deciding to make ventilators.
While these gestures hog the headlines, there are countless other things being done by small retailers and shops across the country to make a difference. Whether it’s a swift pivot from in-store to online selling or implementing home delivery services at short notice, efforts such as these will always be welcomed by customers, and will be rewarded with greater loyalty in the long run.
Collaboration is key
The last few weeks have also seen some great collaboration between retailers. Following the government’s temporary relaxation of competition rules a few weeks ago, supermarkets have been working together to pool resources and ensure consumers get the products they need.
In times like these, brands will be judged on how they behave, so those who have made the effort to be flexible will be the ones who really bounce back once all this is over.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Almost six weeks into the nationwide lockdown, serious conversations are now being had about easing restrictions and restoring a semblance of normality to people’s lives. It’s been a peculiar time for all of us, but there are reasons to be optimistic. There’s a rocky road up ahead for retailers, but a bright future if they’re willing to adapt.