As England reopens their non-essential retail stores, what are the potential costs?
England is the first UK country to approve the opening of non-essential retailers, and it will certainly be revealing as to how much demand there is, as well as how well distancing measures are working.
It can’t be avoided that this pandemic has had a detrimental impact on some long-standing high-street names, including Oasis, Cath Kidston and Brighthouse. However, for those retailers that have survived, more notably the local retailers that are surviving, this provides a unique opportunity to capture new audiences that may have previously sought out those big-name retailers.
Whilst non-essential retailers across England are opening, and non-essential retailers elsewhere preparing to reopen, a number of serious questions need to be answered in terms of the costs and benefits of reopening physical stores. Questions like ‘is it a necessity to open for business survival?’, ‘will I be able to pay staff, bills and distancing equipment costs?’, ‘have all options been exhausted?’ will need to be answered to ensure the right decision has been made, basically speaking, does the cost of reopening outweigh the cost of staff and public safety? If businesses can confidently ensure the safety of others through their distancing measures, and there’s a demand, it could make sense to test the waters by reopening their physical store.
In terms of whether all other options have been exhausted; has updating to an eCommerce website been considered? Or selling items through Facebook community groups or through their new Shops tool? Or have click & collect options been considered? These are all routes to market that can be researched as alternatives to opening physical shops. Customer experience is a key reason why most shoppers visit high-street retailers, however, with that experience being impaired by social distancing measures, it begs the question: how long will the hour-long queues outside TK Maxx last?
With everything so up in the air, and the threat of eased restrictions going back to the way they were before, it’s important for businesses to be extremely cautious, and not just for the short-term. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the adaptions businesses have made over the past few months will be key to surviving the next few.