2020 retail sales worst on record, but how can the sector recover?


The British Retail Consortium has revealed that 2020 was the worst year since records began for retail sales. Christmas failed to lift the sector out of a bleak period, with only food seeing positive numbers at the end of the year.

With sales last year the worst on record, the challenge for retailers, particularly now non-essential stores are shut once more, is huge. Though e-commerce isn’t a perfect solution to lockdown retail challenges, there is no better time for retailers to double-down on ensuring the digital path to purchase is frictionless, reliable, informative, and engaging.

Tightening up demand forecasting methods to streamline the supply chain will also be absolutely crucial in minimising waste-generated losses. Improved predictive technology will lessen lockdown’s impact on margins, while priming retailers to better anticipate consumers’ fluctuating buying patterns even beyond this urgent situation. In addition to nailing the transactional and technological components, though, retailers would be best served to demonstrate compassion (not in an exploitative way, of course, but in a helpful way). This is an important moment for brands to ask themselves how they can provide real value to consumers.