As more and more people leave home after months in lockdown, some retail experts predict that we will return to normal as soon as possible. Apart from the attributes of forced social distancing, the antibacterial soap pumps and ugly arrows that lead us along the shelves like cattle, we are eagerly encouraged to go shopping.
However, many will be disappointed with the post-covid consumer who is much more careful with his money.
Although the news after the stores opened last week included footage of endless lines outside major retailers Zara, Primark and JD Sports, despite initial enthusiasm, foot traffic declined by a third from the same period last year.
A local perspective
Travel restrictions have become the norm, forcing consumers to shop locally more often. And while it is believed that once travel is considered safe again, and trains and buses are back in full motion, consumers will move further away from home, the opposite appears to be true.
A recent Deloitte survey found that 57 percent of consumers are now more likely to buy locally produced brands than before the pandemic.
This is in line with the consumer mentality that focuses on sustainability. The coronavirus has made us all more aware of the ecological impact of production, travel, and ultimately our own purchasing behavior. As the figures suggest, this will manifest in a renewed interest in local production and local retail.
Don’t talk, just act
The intense control that brands and retailers experienced during the pandemic have become expensive. 28 percent of Gen Z consumers – our most socially engaged generation – say they have stopped buying brands as a direct result of their response to the coronavirus outbreak. Brands that put profit above people and do not care about the health of their employees will have to pay for it.
The brands that responded positively, helped their staff and environment and took decisive measures are better off. 62 percent of the requested consumers say they will spend more money on brands that they believe acted responsibly.
In the future, consumers will attach great importance to the values that a brand conveys, and brands with a vague or exclusive message fall short.
In May, online sales represented 33.4 percent of all retail in the UK, a monthly growth of 19.7 percent. Many brands have gained an exclusively digital audience during the lockdown. An effective digital approach is therefore considered a resilient system.
Many CEOs have publicly announced that Direct-to-Consumer has been their greatest salvation or, in the event of a lack of investment, their greatest regret.
Progressive leaders in the fashion industry are considering more effective ways to connect more directly with consumers born in the digital age. Inditex founder Amancio Ortega recently announced that it would invest 1 billion euros in its online offering until 2022 while simultaneously closing 1,200 physical stores worldwide.
Business leaders who claim that nothing beats the physical retail experience will be supplanted by those who successfully innovate and translate the shopping experience into the digital world.
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