The Coronavirus pandemic caused a shockwave in the country that left almost every business affected in some way shape or form. Social distancing measures, one-way systems, face masks, hand gel. These were just the surface of changes that would have to be endured by businesses up and down the United Kingdom.
As supermarkets remained open as essential retailers, people reverted towards cooking from home instead of eating out, much to the restaurant and hospitality industries dismay. This led to an upsurge in the number of people getting into cooking, a trend that is expected to outlive the pandemic.
An Adobe and YouGov study found that 74% of retailers have changed their products and services in 2020 as a result of the pandemic - and that many of the changes would be permanent. The cause of this being that much of the population has changed their core buying habits, meaning a change in the way that they shop, and, in turn, the products and services that they end up buying.
In the same study, some 15% say they are now better equipped to personalise their services using customer data. Whilst 66% of UK consumers said retailers had been able to keep up with shoppers’ changing demands and behaviour and of those that have changed their products and services during the pandemic, 74% say the changes will be permanent. This further highlights just how deeply the coronavirus pandemic has affected the way businesses operate, the same as how the customers that they serve have changed.
Despite this period of severe uncertainty, there was an opportunity for businesses to see on a much more basic level, just what it is that their customers truly need. Various brands worldwide offering their services and spaces to manufacture face masks, hand gel, and medical equipment. L’Oreal were keen to help on this front, with the business donating over 750,000 personal hygiene products – including hand sanitisers – to frontline workers.
With the necessity to isolate at home brought about by government lockdown, the usage of the internet and online retail surged. Openreach customers consumed over 50,000 petabytes of data in 2020, compared to 22,000 in 2019, an increase of over 127%.
This heightened usage brought increased customers onto online retail platforms, the British population spent £113 billion online in the year 2020. A 48% increase from the year previous. And with this, a few businesses succeeded more than others, most notably Amazon, who, during the pandemic, made great strides towards becoming the UK’s most popular retailer, chasing Tesco, who also performed relatively well.
The pandemic has caused some irreversible changes to the way that people shop and buy. From the factors mentioned, such as a mass migration to digital retail, these will re-mould the landscape of buying habits. However, there are certain irreplaceables that will stay forever. Larger purchases, such as white goods, TV's, furniture, and fashion will always have a physical presence. People cannot do without trying products, making sure they are right, and making sure the value for money is there, an irrefutable benefit to in-person retail.