There is no doubting that COVID-19 has impacted most people’s lives, whether that is someone tragically losing loved ones due to the effects of the virus, people losing their jobs, or businesses that have been pushed to the brink of collapse. As many countries now come out the other side of being locked down, people are discussing ‘life after lockdown’.
Lets take a look at some of the ways the COVID-19 lockdown has affected life.
Many businesses have had to make remote working viable, and recent research conducted by Ciena reports that 68% of people expect to work from home more often even once lockdown restrictions are eased, and 62% of these people expect to work from home either all of the time or much more frequently than before the pandemic.
More customers have had to adjust to online shopping. Not surprisingly, the number of online sales have soared. The IMRG Capegemini Sales Index for June 2020 reports UK online retail sales are up 32.7% for May 2020 compared to May 2019. The impact for groceries seems even greater, with online grocery shopping up 91% in the four weeks to June 14th compared to the previous period.
How might businesses be affected post-lockdown?
Reduced footfall in brick and mortar shops
Firstly, the move to home working will have a big impact on offline shopping. People will be less likely to quickly stop at the shops on the way home from work, or popping out on their lunch break to pick something up. Before, it wasn’t such a big deal to physically go to a shop and buy something since you were out of the house at work, but if you will now be working from home, it’s just going to seem more convenient to order online.
Remote working could also have a huge impact on food establishments in the centre of towns and cities. A quick stroll through Bank in the City of London during lunchtime will show you that the majority of the people queuing up for something to eat are white-collar workers. Perhaps the same people most likely to benefit from the luxury of home working.
Shopping behaviours have changed
The increase in online sales during the lockdown may not just be a blip due to people being forced to shop online as stores were closed because of social distancing rules. It’s possible that many people who had preferred offline shopping may now have realised the convenience of online shopping and their shopping behaviours may have been permanently affected.
Research from McKinsey & Company shows UK consumer sentiment during the coronavirus crisis. Consumers’ net intent to purchase in-store was negative across all product categories, while some product categories, such as groceries and at-home entertainment, e.g. Netflix, had positive net intent to purchase online. The results of this study do not look good for brick and mortar stores.
The lockdown might not be an isolated incident
Even if in-store retail sales recover to similar levels pre-COVID-19 lockdown, the threat of a second wave of coronavirus is looming on the horizon. Many experts are reporting a second wave of the virus is a possibility towards the end of 2020. We have already seen local lockdowns happening in parts of the UK such as Leicester.
If the UK suffers a return of the virus, it is not far fetched to anticipate another lockdown. For businesses not positioned to succeed online, having to cease operating for the second time in a year could be devastating.
What do businesses need to do in this post-COVID-19 world?
Businesses need to focus on their digital offering more than ever. Even before COVID-19 and lockdowns, consumer trends were changing and people were researching products and purchasing online in ever greater numbers. Lockdowns have only accelerated these trends. Businesses need to ensure that where possible they can provide their services online, and also that they have an effective digital marketing strategy in-place, as they may not be able to rely on footfall any more.
If you would like to discuss your digital strategy, contact us find out how we can help.