Will the UK return to the high street?
Yesterday saw long queues form outside stores in the UK as the government lifted restrictions on non-essential retailers. However, it’s very early days and the re-openings came at the same time as figures were released that showed the number of shoppers on the high street were a third lower than the same period last year.
This reflects several factors, including people’s ongoing health and safety concerns as well as the economic impact of the pandemic.
High street retailers will have lost nearly £60bn in unspent money during lockdown, which they will hope we are all going to start spending very soon. The concern is that households that have developed a taste for online shopping will not be tempted back to high streets and shopping centres in sufficient numbers as the pandemic has accelerated the move to online.
Shopify launches ‘Shop’, its new e-commerce app
As the high street struggles, and platforms such as Instagram become unlikely e-commerce giants, the e-commerce platform Shopify is proving indispensable for retailers of all sizes.
Shopify provides technology for anyone to set up a store and sell their products online. Because it is affordable, Shopify is favoured by small to medium size brands that can’t afford to pay for costly, custom website builds. About 1m brands use its services, including 80,000 merchants based in the UK.
The platform is now capitalising on its success through lockdown by launching ‘Shop’, its consumer shopping app. This is an ambitious move which positions itself as a competitor to Amazon and Etsy, and potentially accelerates the decline of the high street even quicker.
Search trends during lockdown and the exit phase
Search trends through the lockdown offer insight into how consumers are adjusting to the new normal and how they are preparing for the future. Understanding these can help a brand better align its outreach strategy to meet audience needs while understanding their concerns.
To provide some context on this, analytics agency CodeFuel has released an infographic on emerging search trends around COVID-19.
Overall the UK’s news consumption since February has increased by 327 per cent. Likewise, searches relating to leisure have increased, with 19 per cent more searched relating to hobbies. More recent searches relating to the exit phase have increased 232 per cent, with queries such as ‘flights after Covid-19’ and ‘face-masks at work’ all trending.
The winners and losers of 2020 so far
In the space of a few weeks, the Covid-19 pandemic has turned some UK businesses from moneymakers to barely managing to survive and for others vice-versa. The Daily Telegraph took the highly unusual step this week to print its ‘winners and losers of 2020’ just halfway through the year as it reflected on the fundamental changes we have all witnessed.
The winners included meal kit start-ups such as MindfulChef which saw a 452 per cent growth in new customers. Research from Barclays has shown almost half of new meal box users intend to keep using the service post-lockdown.
The losers included brands such as Cath Kidson, Debenhams and Monsoon who have all entered administration. Primark was particularly hard hit as it refused to sell online, losing £100m in a month, although the queues outside their stores this week will be cause for optimism.
The future of live entertainment
A survey market research agency Dynata suggests a mood of caution about a return to live experiences while the practice of live-streaming is continuing strong.
Two-thirds of those surveyed have said they will only return to live concerts slowly or not at all; 64 per cent at the theatre, 57 per cent at sporting events and 55 per cent at the cinema.
Since the pandemic started, just over half of respondents have live-streamed a concert, movie, sports event or theatre show. Films have been the most popular (36 per cent), followed by concerts (at 21 per cent), sporting events (17 per cent) and theatre (14 per cent).