2021 has been another roller coaster year for retail. The persistent effect of Covid19 and its impact on purchases; online that gather a larger mass and some big brands in the main streets are more influenced. By the end of June 2021, UK motorways had lost more than 8,700 chain store branches in major outlets,
According to a PwC study, supported by Local Data Company. Iconic brands have permanently disappeared from the main streets, including Miss Selfridge, Topshop and Debenhams. Marks and Spencer continued with its plan to close and merge stores, including 100 by the end of 2022. Retailer John Lewis also announced the closure of 42 of its stores after the lockdown. The group announced their first loss, of £ 517million, in more than 150 years of history. 30 other store closings have been announced. As our post-pandemic shopping habits integrate, one clear trend has positive implications for our communities and neighborhoods: UK consumers think and buy small. As visitor numbers decline in urban centers due to the lack of many workers who continued to work from home, businesses in local small towns and their main streets have grown, supported by buyers who want to stay local.Deloitte research indicates that 59% of UK consumers have purchased more regularly from local stores and services during shutdowns.
A global technology company, ThoughtWorks found in its ‘2030 Britain’ study that after a year more and more people are considering buying food directly from food producers or through of online retailers, with just 32% of Gen Z believing the future of grocery shopping will be what happens in a traditional supermarket. The legacy of the pandemic includes the rise and fall of digital, increased influx of local stores, rapid home delivery, and specialized and hyper-personalized experiences. Research from the Center for Cities shows that some small urban centers have experienced fewer reductions in overall influx than large cities. The country’s economic recovery could be stimulated by allowing and maintaining this renewed interest in local purchases, as well as a much-needed plan for the redevelopment of main streets into “human” main streets. Consumers are looking for little ones on digital platforms. Social media platforms like Instagram are strengthening the means by which small brands can connect with new consumers and provide an easy checkout experience.
The online marketplace for small sellers and their trades experienced a business boom during the pandemic and benefited from continued engagement from buyers. 25% of first-time buyers become repeat buyers on Etsy within 30 days of their first purchase, and active buyers on the platform spend an average of $ 132. ”From Etsy’s highly differentiated value proposition, and that incredible momentum continued into the first quarter of 2021, ”said CEO Josh Silverman.Attestation, the consumer research platform has released new data indicating that the UK will continue to balance online and physical shopping. 50% of those questioned say they “mainly” or “always” buy products online (excluding food), compared to 29% who buy in-store. 31% divide their purchases between online and offline. The Attest study also highlights that UK shoppers still view shopping as a frequent activity, with 60% of respondents saying they shop on a weekly or daily basis.
It will be the way we consume If these new consumer trends allow small brands to thrive online and main streets and small market towns to come back to life, we may see a welcome resurgence of “local personality”. Our main streets and our businesses must reflect the identity of the people and the communities that use them, where we feel safe and welcomed. A dynamic and hyperlocalized highway could see the end of the homogenized highway. What a welcome legacy that would be.