Crisis-Hit Retail Businesses Won’t Disappear, But They Will Change

If you’ve been following events in the retail industry, you’ll know that the sector is currently going through something of a crisis of confidence. Top industry bosses are pleading with the government to relax the two-meter rule to make their shopping spaces viable. Otherwise, they won’t be able to drum up the sales they need to keep themselves afloat.

Part of the issue comes down to the sheer impracticality of maintaining social distancing in shopping centres never designed to deal with it. Bosses think it is unlikely that people will be willing to queue to enter a shop. And they’re probably right, especially when they can do all their shopping on their phones as they wait.

Retain, however, isn’t going to disappear. The pandemic won’t last forever, and shoppers are going to return in droves, once conditions return to normal. Furthermore, we’re going to see a bunch of adaptations that change how stores operate.

More Pop-Up Stores

Design4Retail has been tracking the effects of the pandemic on the industry. It believes that the way stores will operate is going to change in meaningful ways. Because the government is considering regional lockdowns, there is a chance that specific high streets could be shut for fears of spreading the virus. Retailers, therefore, may need to think on their feet. Those that don’t have multiple locations might benefit from pop-up stores. These would be retail outlets they could set up quickly in towns and cities not affected by lockdown rules. They could then use these stores to generate cash flow to cover their costs while their main brick-and-mortar site remains closed.

Having more pop-ups stores is an exciting thought. It would mean the expansion of local markets and perhaps a return to travelling sales for a time. It would also give retailers the ability to sell their wares at popular tourist hotspots, even if gatherings remain banned for several years.

More Drive-Thrus

Drive-thrus are another strategy retailers are likely to use to make better use of their physical premises. Many customers are understandably wary of walking around stores filled with hundreds of other people. Some are unwilling to sit down and eat a restaurant meal and will probably remain so for some time yet.

Drive-thrus, therefore, might become the order of the day. Even before the crisis, we saw many outlets, including coffee shops, moving in this direction. This process could accelerate and encompass non-traditional businesses too, including perhaps department stores. At the very least, there’s likely to be an increase in demand for click-and-collect for some time yet.

Free Hand Sanitizer And Temperature Checks

Finally, retailers might change the role of security guards. Instead of watching for thieves and providing directions, these professionals could be in charge of dispensing hand sanitizer and providing temperature checks. While action like this might not make a massive difference in the spread of the disease, it could inspire confidence and build brands. Shoppers would be more willing to go into a store that takes hygiene seriously compared to one that doesn’t.