One thing is for sure where 2020 is concerned, it has challenged the retail market more than anyone could have realised at the start of the year. With news of Arcadia’s ongoing troubles and the sad collapse of the once mighty Debenhams, the pre-2020 issues that the market was facing – and coming up well against – have been magnified like never before as a result of the COVID/19 pandemic.
Despite the sensitive ongoing issues, this outcome is symbolic of the current unforgiving retail climate brought on by the pandemic despite any uptake in online performance during lockdown. A lack of brand resonance has, unfortunately, also played a key part here, as the enduring customer loyalty that has sustained throughout the industry becomes even more discerning and selective.
While the threat of these household retailers disappearing is saddening from many perspectives, it acts as a timely reminder to make sure that brand value in retail is sourced directly from customer needs – instead of assuming that these can be dictated by the retailer, retailers need to look to their target demographic for guidance on what will sell…making a distinct movement away from traditional ‘We know best’ strategies…”
Of course, threats are also accompanied by opportunities and with a hugely captive audience in place – both due to lockdown issues and the time of year, now is the time for retailers to look to best practice and more importantly, collaboration and cross-learning, to better ensure that as many as possible can emerge from this in a stronger position where possible.