Retail takes on Covid-19

As of today (31 March), there are over 22,000 cases of Coronavirus in the UK. With figures rising, and a quarter of the world currently in lockdown, how are consumers’ retail attitudes changing?

Whether you’re a bulk-buyer or not, there’s no denying our attitudes towards retail shopping have changed. We’re far less likely to buy a daily shop than we were six-weeks ago, with the UK spending an extra £1.9bn on groceries in the last four weeks and online grocery shopping increasing 14% over the same period – showing consumers, more often than not, are purchasing everything they need for that week rather than buying day-to-day.

The rise in online commerce

But, how have retailers adapted to these changes and consumer demands? Well, as expected, retailers have seen a huge increase in the amount of online traffic being sent to their websites, with increases happening even before they were asked to close their bricks and mortar stores. Brands that decided to close their high street stores before the lockdown was imposed by saw online traffic increase 12% between 20-23 March, while stores which remained open saw traffic fall 6% compared to last year. Could this suggest consumers were valuing stores who put customer and staff safety first more?

Isolation purchases

But what is it that we’re buying? When making purchases online, it is clear UK consumers are buying products which will help them through this period of self-isolation. Awin Affiliate Networks found sales of fitness products for the weekend of 20 March were up by 53% compared to February, with basket values up 42% as consumers prepared to get fit during the lockdown.

However, we’re not sure how much fitness will get done with sales of digital television and video-on-demand also up by 174%, compared to the same time last year. Additionally, alcohol sales increased by 371% from the week of 16 March compared with the previous year, and increased 300% on Friday 20 March after the UK’s pubs were forced to close – meaning there might be a few boozy home fitness sessions happening during our three-week lockdown.

We also need to take into account the rise in mental wellbeing purchases being made in the UK, with not only fitness equipment but board games, journals, and yoga mats virtually selling out across the country. This suggests shoppers are keen to look after not only their physical health but protect their mental health as well during a period of unbalance and potential turbulence.

Unsurprisingly, fashion, beauty, jewellery, and accessory companies have seen major impacts on their revenues with the UK flouting any need to get all dressed up to sit around working from home all day (how many of you are reading this in your sweat pants or pjs right now?).



Why it’s important

Any retailer worth their weight in gold needs to be aware of changing consumer habits. Is it likely that we’re going to return to the way things were pre-Coronavirus? Probably not. Are we going to see the impact of the virus for months to come? Absolutely! So, it’s really a case of adapt or shut up shop.

Ensure you’ve got a productive supply chain going, the product has to get from A to B and to the consumer in the shortest amount of time possible. Now, more than ever it’s key for you to be faster than your competitors and be telling customers that you’re there and ready to support them. Are you holding special hours for key workers and emergency services? Are you supporting your local community in any way? If so, let people know – get your message out there.

Alternatively, if you’re providing a solution that makes life easier for the sector through this period, shout about it! It’s essential you’re getting your voice heard and in a cluttered market of Coronavirus news this can be quite difficult. You could do this with the help of a PR professional, if there’s the budget there, or take this task on yourself. The best way to do so is by owning your owned channels – this is your social media platforms and website. Make sure you’re regularly keeping your audience up to date with the latest developments and sharing your news.

If you’re struggling to get your voice heard in a crowded sector, drop us a line.

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