As the UK struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a growing concern about our economy’s resilience. As the government works to keep businesses and their employees stable, it seems likely that, as the lockdown continues, more businesses will fall on hard times.
However, there may be a more positive outlook to consider. While household spending is currently down, this money is not being spent elsewhere but, instead, is often being saved. This could mean that, once the danger of coronavirus danger dissipates and our lockdowns are ended, there will be money to be spent.
Back to the High Street
Some businesses have been lucky during this time and are able to continue their operation, or at least shift it online. This has seen deliveries increase and postal services become even more valuable. For other businesses and services, an online presence isn’t possible. And, while fitness classes can be live-streamed and restaurants can deliver their food, these aren’t permanent options.
Nostalgia for the high street is already growing. As people are restricted to their homes, more are beginning to desire the return to outdoor shopping, dining, and leisure activities. The limitations of online shopping are becoming more clear too, as potential customers are unable to easily browse clothing or discuss item specifics with trained staff. Perhaps most significantly, social contact is missed. Typically, the high street has always been a social place with friends and family getting together in restaurants and shops to spend time with one another.
Preparing a Business
As lockdowns elsewhere in the world are loosening, businesses around the UK are beginning to prepare themselves for a reopened society. Clubs are readying to arrange events, restaurants are planning menus, and shops are organising stock, all ready for a sudden surge in popularity and demand. Many items that have not had suitable replacements are predicted to be sought after. Greeting card units will be proudly displayed after a period of e-cards and gyms will see memberships go through the roof as the limitations of home-workouts have been discovered.
The transition many businesses have made into operating online will be incredibly useful as they reopen brick and mortar stores. Those who balance online services with physical shops will have an advantage and be able to more securely reap the benefits of both. And, while taxes will certainly increase as the government recovers its money, businesses will be sure to adapt to a reopening high street.
The most significant hurdle businesses will face is how to maximise profits during the initial return to normalcy, as shoppers being spending the money that has, during the lockdown, been saved. Whether shopping habits return gradually or in a sudden burst of excitement, it will be a key focus for businesses to establish their place in customer preferences.
While it may be difficult to imagine a day of shopping in bustling streets right now, the economy is sure to recover and the businesses that prepare for a re-organised and reestablished high street will be the ones that grow with it. So, while the local shopping centre might not look exactly as it has done previously, it will eventually be just as busy.