Retail is recovering, but with the UK heading into recession, the future of retail is still uncertain
It has been two months since Britain’s retail sector opened its doors for the first time after almost three months in lockdown due to COVID-19, which triggered an unprecedented transformation of the retail sector and has given way to a new era of retail operations and consumer behaviour.
The latest figures suggest that the retail sector is recovering well, remaining robust in July for two months of consecutive growth which has taken the sector back to pre-lockdown levels of sales. However, with the UK falling into recession and high-street giants shuttering stores and losing staff, companies across the country are scrambling to pivot and transform their operations to succeed in the new landscape.
Will Broome, founder and CEO of retail-tech company, Ubamarket, has been on the front lines of innovation in the retail sector, helping companies to revolutionise their operations by integrating with mobile technology. Now, Will discusses the lay of the land with regards to British retail and explores what the future might hold for retailers and consumers alike:
“The retail sector has long been one of Britain’s biggest industries and the largest private-sector employer, with up to 3 million people working in the industry at the start of 2020. However, the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic resulted in a huge proportion of these workers being furloughed or losing their jobs, as retailers struggled to cope with the extended period of lockdown.
“Now, the question facing retailers is not ‘when will things go back to normal’ but rather ‘how can we adapt our offering to make sure we are aligned with the changing trends and new retail landscape?’. Adhering to the hygiene measures is, of course, essential but that is only one piece of the puzzle. In order to survive and thrive long term in this new era of retail, retailers must accept that the landscape has completely changed, and hygiene is only one of the concerns. Companies which are reluctant to transform their operations and reposition their resources will find it difficult to survive.
“As a result, the whole shopping experience must be revitalised and transformed, to allow for increased hygiene and safety measures, but also addressing concerns around convenience, personalisation and ease of the consumer experience. In order to assure long-term success, retailers must look to diversify their sales channels, boosting their online presence and truly revolutionising the in-store experience by developing an environment for customers which is not only safe and hygienic but truly personalised and experiential. Retail technology is one option which offers a solution to a number of these challenges, enabling retailers to easily uphold safety guidelines whilst also hyper personalising and improving the convenience of the in-store experience.”