Covid-19: The 3 types of post-lockdown retailers

Now that retailing in the UK is starting to open up, we can break retailers into three groups – two you should support and one you should avoid.

Now that retailing in the UK is starting to open up (past supermarkets, bike stores, and DIY stores), we can start to see how retailers are responding/changing how they operate. While retailers can’t (always) change the public and how people use spaces, they have the ability to manage their own environments.

1. Online but closed to the public

To some degree the safest form of retailing, although it pushes the Covid-19 risk onto staff, couriers and delivery agents. The greatest health risk to the health of staff is other staff and delivery drivers. Retailers without a viable online presence will struggle to survive – but not all retailing can be done online.

2. Retailers who have significantly changed how they run their stores

This is the ideal post-covid response – retailers who are actively working to change how they do business while maximising customer and staff safety. These retailers will keep trying different things and keep adjusting to new information – which may be frustrating for customers as their experience changes.

These retailers have three characteristics:

  • The retailer actively manages how many people are in their stores
  • All staff have (and wear) PPE
  • The store has changed internal store layouts to reduce the amount of stock on the shop floor, to provide structured pathways through their stores, and to minimise interaction/engagement between customers, allowing them to remain socially distanced in store.

Examples: Nike, Alpine Bikes.

3. Covid-19 means business as usual

Sadly, most face-to-face retailers fall in this category. They may have hand sanitiser, but they’ve not changed how they operate in any significant way. If customers can’t go through your store while socially distanced, then you’re part of the problem.

Making customers socially distance while queuing to get into a store – but doing nothing to change their behaviour when in the store – is a sign retailers fall into this group.

Examples: Ikea, Hollister.

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