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Post-lockdown: The Importance of Understanding How People Will Return to the Shops

Tuesday 28 April 2020 Retail Consultancy

Emily Clegg's picture
By Emily Clegg

Less than 2 months ago, you could visit our favourite shopping destinations, whether that was in a regional mall such as Meadowhall, a designer outlet like Bicester Village, or forcing your way through crowds on Oxford Street in London. Today, many of our favourite destinations are either in part, or fully closed.

According to our new ranking, Pimlico has climbed 2336 places in the last 2 months due to the total closure of many non-essential sectors. Similarly, we have seen Earlsfield in Wandsworth climb 2072 places and Hackney climb 322 places. How can these changes be so stark? These are densely populated inner London locations, which a strong provision of essential services that remain open, and in the absence of larger shopping destinations, are hoovering up demand for in-store purchases.

The retail landscape has completely changed in the matter of two months, and as non-essential stores and large shopping destinations have shut, and strict travel restrictions have been implemented, we find ourselves having to adapt to the new normal. The catchments that shopping locations trade within have changed shape, shrunk or completely evaporated.

Making use of the flexibility of our models and data we decided to understand what the new normal means for the UK retail landscape. Our models allow you to quickly run any scenario to test any hypothesis. This could be reflecting which brands are actually trading, which we have done here, allowing you to understand how catchment shapes change as stores re-open. We can also flex this based on how Acorn groups behave, and how quickly they are each likely to return to more ‘regular’ shopping habits once restrictions are eased. Other areas to consider are the impact of a staggered re-opening, travel restrictions, impacts on consumer spend and channel shift – all of these can be accounted for.

Looking at today’s new world those destinations that are achieving the highest spend are entirely different to six months ago. Whilst the total amount of money being spent in physical stores has undoubtedly declined, local high streets are hoovering up a lot of spend that would have otherwise been distributed across larger nearby destinations. This is another positive indicator of the innovation of small businesses trying to tackle a precarious market, and their relative success in numerous locations, it could even herald the beginnings of a high street revival.

We see that people are having to shop more locally because larger destinations are shut. By centre type local high streets and suburban community hubs have experienced the most significant uplift in rankings as we keep it local. On average, local high streets such as Peckham have increased by 312 places, and Suburban centres such as Headingley in Leeds have gone up by 908 places, demonstrating the impact that local shopping is having on the retail market.

 


 

Peckham

Peckham sits six times as high in the UK ranking as it did before this pandemic according to our analysis. Most local traders on the high street are open, and are busier than normal according to their accounts, due to the increased demand and the travel restrictions in place. The local high street is so busy in fact, that social distancing has been made near impossible due to the large queues for stores along the high street. Local traders are demonstrating their flexibility by adapting their services, this includes butchers offering weekly delivered meat boxes, and Beer Shop micro-pub switching its business to a local personal delivery service, and cutting out Deliveroo.

 

Birkdale Village in Southport

The village of Birkdale in Southport has climbed in our UK ranking by +35%; this is due to its strong provision of essential stores. The high street is bustling (relatively speaking), and small businesses have even set up a scheme called ‘knock and drop’ where a butchers, greengrocers, bakery and fishmonger have banded together to create a combined next day delivery service to the local area. Examples such as these demonstrate the power of quick adaptation to the current climate.

We don’t expect the retail landscape to remain static for long, the situation is ever-changing, and the novelty of local shopping is bound to reach an expiry date. Therefore, it is important for landlords and brands to understand the ever-changing world. When centres and stores start re-opening, it is imperative to understand where shoppers will be coming from, and what types of people will return (inevitably, not all will immediately), and how customer behaviour is likely to change. The marketing landscape will be particularly interesting – for larger destinations market shares will be launching at zero, which is both a challenge and an opportunity, particularly to tap into new areas and gain shoppers that would have otherwise been key battlegrounds with competitors.

For a better understanding of how this will affect your business, please get in touch.

The retail landscape has completely changed in the matter of two months, and as non-essential stores and large shopping destinations have shut, and strict travel restrictions have been implemented, we find ourselves having to adapt to the new normal. The catchments that shopping locations trade within have changed shape, shrunk or completely evaporated.

Post-lockdown: The Importance of Understanding How People Will Return to the Shops