COVID-19: What is the future of retail?

COVID Epidemic Infographic

COVID-19 is not the first pandemic we have had, yet the impact has been substantial to the world of stocks and retail.

COVID-19 Infographic

First impacting the high-streets was the boom of online shopping; having whatever you wanted from your favourite store. Due to the rise of technology, and the decrease in footfall within high street retailers, brands are forced to create innovative ideas to conform to the changes in consumerism. In 2018, stores such as House of Fraser and M&S had national closures due to the way that people are choosing to shop. Who wouldn’t enjoy the ease and luxury of shopping at your fingertips?

But now, it isn’t about the lack of consumerism due to the rise of technology; there is a threat that we don’t know much about, something we can’t see. The humour of watching families panic buying food and toilet rolls as if it were WWII, became ridiculous when shelves began emptying and stores couldn’t keep up.

On the 24th March, the Prime Minister enforced strict rules on the nation to deter large gatherings, which included closing schools and closure of non-essential stores.

Yet, with the closure of clothing stores, the online customers seem to have fallen too. Why? It’s either the fact that we are being careful with what we spend, as we don’t know how long this societal change will last… or people spent all their money on toilet roll and hand soap.

Retailers having to pay out staff, halt productions and any proceedings of designing and manufacturing. Not only are orders being cancelled in fear that the clothing is being produced in China; but according to Drapers, several high street chains – including Monsoon Accessorize, Debenhams and value retailer M&Co – have extended their supplier payment terms to balance the fall in the market and stocks. 

The fear of redundancies and losses grow as days and weeks go on with halted works in factories. Retailers don’t know what to do next. Brands such as ASOS are trying to adapt to the swift change in the market, facing something they have never had to consider before. Pushing the ‘Klarna’ payment system to encourage shopping in instalments during this drop-in economy, along with discount codes at checkouts, are ways for online retailers such as ASOS to boost their sales.

So what is next for the future of retail? As long as we control the effects of COVID-19 on our market, in the meantime, wash your hands and sing Happy Birthday twice… 

Also, to thank the NHS workers that have been working tirelessly during the epidemic, join people across the UK at our doorsteps at 8pm to #ClapForOurCarers. 

Post written by Rachael Taylor.

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