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Our COVID-19 Designer Survival Guide

We have put together a short article on our findings, thoughts and insights surrounding the current virus situation specifically for designers, small businesses and brands. We hope it helps your small business survive these troubling times. Please note, these are purely our current thoughts and opinions only. 

The Impact: On Physical Stores + Shopping Behaviour

We really are entering uncertain and unprecedented times. On a global scale, this pandemic will reshape all of us, businesses, society and each of us as individuals, it certainly will be a challenging and difficult time, but as always there is hope and space for innovation, opportunity can and will come from such a dark time.

The high street as we know it will be one of the most affected areas - it is going to see a massive change and the next 6-9 months are going to be key for businesses survival as this period will be heavily disrupted and majority of brands taking the opportunity to pivot businesses digitally. All brands, especially luxury fashion, are likely to experience low sales and forced to enter “survival mode” which will hit the next 6-9 months the hardest however potentially be difficult for the next 18 months at least. 

I worry a lot for the future of permanent retailers, especially those that are independent and rely on their physical space. For them, this is going to be a very challenging time and one that will be weathered with a successful online pivot as well as the luxury to not be fully reliant on the physical space - my concern for permanent retailers is one of the reasons LDC is only pop-ups, retail was already amidst such a shift in the high street reinventing that this situation will force it to the extreme, I do worry for the closures and amount of businesses that will suffer - with those that have a strong online presence and business model as well as those with cash that will be able to weather this 6-9 months of uncertainty. 

The Opportunity: For the small, local + resilient

We do believe in and see the scope for innovation and opportunity - we have to remember everyone is going to be affected here, the entire world has been hit with this, so now more than ever it is important to unite and remember that we are stronger together, for small businesses to support each other through this and consumers to feel closer to the designers/retailers in such unprecedented times. We will come through this. 

In terms of shopping habits, the streets will be empty - Tuesday 17th March we saw a drastic drop in footfall and therefore sales in central London and this I believe was the beginning of society moving to “stay at home”. I do believe we will begin to see a spike in online sales, digital activity and once the panic has calmed a little and people settle into working from home. 

Products + Categories

Fashion is not deemed a necessity and we will see an initial impact on customer shopping habits as consumers opt for necessities (food, healthcare) and are cautious over their employment status. However, things will settle and with more time at home, we do anticipate a spike in home comfort online shopping such as home fragrance, tableware, candles, pyjamas etc (if you have any of these items (or can have) then get them online now!). We also believe that we will then see an increase in more unusual, unique items with consumers turning to the unique and unusual, seeking stories and exciting new pieces to carefully add to their homes/wardrobes - even if it means just wearing that new favourite dress around the house - we are all going to want to feel good, look good and to feel positive. 

I recommend to all of you that truly love shopping independents and unusual unique small brands really use this time to support the smaller brands who will find it tougher to weather the next few months, however as always there is opportunity and light at the end of the tunnel for a brighter, more sustainable, ethical and eco-fashion industry.

Online Selling

As businesses pivot digitally and (assuming) the postal services continue, we will likely see the same spike Italy did in online sales. This will take a little time. With people stuck and home, boredom and little else to do people will turn to seeking digital community and unity, especially on the weekends and we see this coming across most in “at home activities” conducted as a group using zoom or various other channels.  At LDC we are prepping a series of workshops led by our designers, it is crucial we support these small businesses right now through this challenging time, and for us creating workshops where customers can tune in at a specific time and have received a “workshop kit” in the post to then jump on zoom and do a class all together will be stimulation and community much needed right now.
China saw a massive surge in online sales for home comforts at the beginning of their lockdown, as well as various apps crashed such as cooking apps, people had the time and wanted the stimulation and experience along with it as well as the human connection zoom can bring. 

Lifestyle, homewares, pyjamas, slippers, socks, etc are all going to be big key players in the online shopping field as people want to be comfortable and happy at home so at LDC we are doubling up on these categories and taking on new brands. 

We do also see a big opportunity for smaller brands, whilst sales are going to struggle at first and times are going to be tough, there is opportunity for sustainable and ethical brands, brands with a story and niche that are manufacturing local and consciously to be positioned at the forefront as customers begin to think even more about their purchases and their decision making. We think people will want to love and cherish statement items more, considering their purchases going forward and making sure they get used out of them even if it's just wondering around the house with zoom on and chatting to friends in all our extravagant pieces to feel good.

Fashion will also play a key role, with time on our hands to try our current clothes and to create our own home fashion shows, we will be dressing up for ourselves and rethinking our purchase decision - it’ll be a time for decluttering and revaluation of our wardrobes with a focus on keeping the pieces that have nostalgic meaning and value to us, likely to more extravagant and unusual items will become key in our day to day lives. Imagine in two weeks time you're bored at home and sick to death of wearing the same joggers and hoodie, we will want to feel good and look good and it’ll be the more extravagant pieces that we'll be strutting around the house in to keep our spirits up!

Communicating COVID-19 to Customers:

We are in an age where we do need to address this issue and take it seriously, sensitively but also to help each other get through together - as a community we are stronger uniting and supporting one another through this. 
Community is and needs to be at the heart of all messaging and communication to networks. Consider fun creative challenges to take to your community in uniting and evoking a positive, fun, spirits up message through this challenging time.

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