Darren Flynn

The global pandemic and it’s impact on the retail industry

The Global Pandemic
The global pandemic and it’s impact on the retail industry

Is it time to reset and pivot towards digital adoption to match new customer expectations? 

Like the beginning of any new year, 2020 was an opportunity to restart and make the year better than previous years. But no one foretold the impact that COVID-19 would have on us or our economy.  The retail industry has been one of the hardest hit in-terms of being negatively affected following a national lockdown and now safety precautions to stop the spread of COVID. 

Since the UK government-imposed lockdown and social distancing on March 26th, retailers with physical stores have been hit more significantly than online retailers. Due to closures, clothing stores were hit the hardest with a 35% drop as per the Financial Times records. 

Apart from the financial crisis, retailers have also experienced significant disruptions in operations, fulfilments, supply chains, and stock-outs. 

Primark lost £800million during the COVID-19 Lock down*  

Retailers must now embrace digital transformation and pivot to meet the changing expectations of customers.   

The lockdown orders left the UK population unable to shop in-store. June 15th saw nonessential stores reopening however footfall remains low.  The importance of becoming a Digital retailer, to meet the business and customer needs as they now turn to online shopping, has never been greater. Expectations are that ecommerce will account for an ever-greater proportion of total retail sales throughout 2021 and beyond. 

"UK retail ecommerce sales will account for 27.5% of total retail sales this year, and that proportion will approach one-third by 2024. The post-pandemic hit to physical retail will be felt far into the future"  

The Office of National Statistics reported "that of the 46.6% of people employed in 2020, 86% of these work from home due to COVID-19. Meaning that more than one third of consumers shop online weekly, this is up 28% from pre COVID-19"  

COVID-19 has accelerated the use of technology and technology can also accelerate businesses out of this crisis. While businesses that are not yet well adapted to the digital world may find it more difficult, it can offer the opportunity to make these necessary and fundamental changes to the way a business operates. Now is the time of transformation, the time to reset, pivot, and think big. Unipro as a digital agency, continues to provide the strategic thinking, skills, knowledge and resource to support businesses through this period of change.