The reopening of non-essential retail was a long-anticipated and welcome relief for consumers and millions of retail workers. The pent-up demand to physically shop was clearly seen in the long queues forming on the high streets. The scale in which people returned to stores shows that shopping is certainly more than just a process of acquiring goods; it is a social experience, a leisure pastime – one that will never cease to exist but must alter as consumer behaviours evolve.
While the desire to be present in the retail environment is certainly there, a large number of consumers are still being cautious. Notably, we saw a high percentage increase in footfall at out-of-town retail parks where there is more opportunity to socially distance. Also, we’ve seen retailers entice people into their stores by offering 1:1 appointments, as well as increased promotion for click and collect.
While digitally-influenced purchase journeys will remain the norm, savvy retailers know they can’t just close stores and rely on eCommerce to carry them. Retailers have learnt the importance of brick-and-mortar for long-term business performance and will continue to enhance the store experience with increased digital capabilities. Ultimately, retailers must be prepared to offer unified commerce experiences, exceptional customer service and compelling product assortments for a robust level of footfall to continue.