Times of Crisis = Opportunity and Innovation
BY ARIANNA CINI
Retail in the time of Covid-19.
The coronavirus outbreak has impacted the retail industry visibly and heavily.
A record number of stores had to close; we are talking about a total of six thousand shops, without considering the unlimited number of stores that were temporary closed under lockdown rules.
One consequence of the closure of so many stores and the concern about contagion has been the growth of e-commerce towards new firms, types of products and especially a new customer segment. The new main of the retailers was, in fact, to expand their business to reach global markets, embracing a new hybrid business model.
We can affirm that the pandemic has completely changed the way we shop; the store used to be the reference point of shopping, now the primary focus is the internet. Not only has it changed the way we shop, but also what we shop. In saying this, the effects on e-commerce aren’t uniform across products, categories and sellers.
At the top of the list we find items related to personal protection, like for example
disposable gloves, safety masks and hand cleansing gel; and also home activity items and groceries are the categories that scored record numbers.
The need to work from home and learn remotely has moreover increased the purchase of ICT equipment, such as webcams, monitors, headphones and microphones. Demand dropped, instead, for luxury goods, formal/bridal clothing and items related to travel. Data shows that e-commerce has therefore mainly shifted from luxury goods towards everyday necessities, affordable for everyone.
The dominant digital retailers remains Amazon and Ebay; but, believe it or not,
independent shops have been much more better at surviving Covid-19 than chain stores. It’s to say that they had a smaller cost base to cover during periods of crisis, however, they have been much more agile, especially bringing in new products lines.
Statistics indicate that, as the Covid-19 lockdowns hammered the retail sector, there were 20.019 closures of independent shops and 18.186 openings. That compares with 11.120 chain-store closures and 5,119 openings. It means independent businesses declined by 0.54%, compared with 2.77% for the chain units. In a post-Covid-19 world, some of these drastic changes in the e-commerce landscape will doubtless be of a long-term nature.
It’s possible that with the reopening of stores, many people will still prefer to buy online from the safety and convenience of their homes and life after pandemic will probably emerge as a new normal. It’s quite amazing thinking how human beings adapt to new circumstances, thanks to their power of adaptability and flexibility.
Join us as we delve further into the future of retail in an interactive digital panel discussion on the 4th February. Featuring an impressive line up of guests, this surely is one you won't want to miss out on. See more here.