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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Simon

Retail Vision 2020 - Where next..

Photo credit to the super talented Tomasz Frankowski

During 2019 and early 2020, I wrote a number of articles (some links at end) predicting that retail would move away from major commercial centres and back towards a more traditional High Street.

This was before we realised that a Pandemic was upon us. Before we really knew how much our world was about to change…

My reasoning at the time was primarily around a fast-changing Consumer.

Our needs and wants as consumers have been evolving quickly across the last five years. And whilst much of this has been around the move towards digital, there have also been social and generational shifts at play.

The death of a commuter culture

Whilst this has now happened very suddenly due to the Pandemic, it was inevitably going to happen across this decade anyway. For a couple of reasons;

  • I'm a Gen X-er and we were born to graft. There are many like me - and we built our careers during a time when hard work was the badge of honour. Our Millennials and Gen Z are far smarter with their time and much less enthralled with sitting in traffic unproductively. Likewise they are not enchanted by unnecessarily longer days due to travel.

  • An increasing concern around carbon emissions and global warming will likely lead to personalised taxation on carbon footprint in years to come. The future will see us taxed far more personally, based upon our travel habits and even the quality of our driving.

There is a bigger piece of strategic work now needed. Around how we use our City Centres, and how they can be purposeful and commercially thriving hubs again. This will likely be focused on tourism, entertainment and city living as priority. However any return to the office model will likely be a hybrid one. A swift safe transport system that’s more future focused and greener - is a critical part of those plans.

The Independents will rise

The ability of the smaller retailer - to adapt and pivot (most overused word this year!) has meant that even with the difficulty of being closed for several months of this year - there have been many instances where smaller businesses have managed to withstand the impact of Covid 19 this year and soldier on. Dare I say it - Some have even thrived!

It’s true - I’ve seen it..

  • This is not just about - really knowing their customer. It’s also been about being with their customer throughout the twists and turns of 2020. It’s been about effective connection and communication - first and foremost.

  • It’s also about being agile. Trying new things, moving quickly. And in many cases - just being damn brave! Legacy retailers have so much bureaucracy to cut through. And so many stakeholders. They just don’t do swift change - well.

We’ve seen so many legacy retailers struggle, contract and even fail this year. And often this has been an inevitable acceleration of underlying issues.

Much like how Covid 19 is most dangerous for those with underlying health issues. Let’s be honest - the same has been true for business. Unfortunately we will see more of the same in early 2021.

In short - Everything is still changing and moving in the same direction - albeit more dynamically as we all scramble to adapt. Much of what we have seen play out this year has been a Turbo Charge of trends that were in motion already.

Whatever 2021 and beyond will bring for Retail - It certainly won’t be dull.

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