Retail in 2020

When we entered 2020 with slower than usual spending growth due to Brexit uncertainty, little did we know that a global pandemic was about to restructure the retail industry entirely. 

Insights & Research
Nov 2020
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When we entered 2020 with slower than usual spending growth due to Brexit uncertainty, little did we know that a global pandemic was about to restructure the retail industry entirely.

Covid-19 has undoubtably accelerated the global pace of change in retail. Over the past year we have seen famous names disappear overnight. Whilst it is sad to see so many brands sink into administration, it has provided an opportunity for acquisition. At Kesslers, we are fortunate enough to have been in a position to make our own acquisition of Proportion London earlier this year, which for us was an unmissable opportunity to continue this iconic brand. For many, the lockdown periods have facilitated development time and had businesses across the land thinking about their growth plans in both their physical numbers and their in-store experience and offering.

It can be argued that the brands that have suffered the most are the same brands that have continuously failed to adapt to changing retail trends over the last decade and that we were destined to lose unless something changed.

How retailers have had to adapt in 2020:

Digital is everywhere and retail can now come to the shopper at their convenience. Consumer behaviour has changed and therefore retailers need to adapt to find new ways to reach and serve their customers. This doesn’t necessarily mean e-commerce but could be focusing on having an active online presence, contactless payment options or in-store digital display features. Many brands have had to scale up their digital operations, for example, adding more delivery slots and entering new markets.

Retailers have had the opportunity and, in some cases, a necessity to reconfigure their supply chains to react to the changing landscape. Covid-19 exposed weaknesses that can be mitigated by diversifying supply, improving local sourcing and using UK manufacturers like ourselves, who have proven themselves both proactive and reactive in testing times.

Previously used buzz words or nice-to-haves are now the pillars to brand’s values with many retailers we would never have considered presenting a sustainable material alternative to, now demanding it.

Many retailers have had a reduced number of employees due to furlough, self-isolation or redundancy which has resulted in many companies relying heavily on the help of their external partners. For us, there has been a significant increase in the number of strategy days we’ve been involved in and many big names contacting us asking for advice and insight on brand plans and activities.

For Kesslers, having manufacturing on-site has been a huge bonus as it’s provided us and customers with confidence, knowing that we are as protected as we can be against the world’s current challenges.

Looking forward to how we can expect to enter 2021, brands are starting to think about big retail as marketing commitment not an operating spend. Brands such as Nike and adidas are leading the way with flagship stores purpose built for the physical experience of a brand. For many, online shopping is now preferred over the traditional High Street visit. However, shopping centres continue to be places that customers have visited for the whole experience; they want to see what the best brands have to show as part of a social outing, eating lunch and pursuing leisure activities, such as bowling. Shopping centres are still where we go for fun and with many individuals having been deprived of this freedom and escape, we might expect an increase in footfall when restrictions are eased.  

As a key partner for many brands, the potential of 2021 makes us excited and optimistic about the future of retail in the UK and in a post-lockdown world, and we cannot wait to see what we’ll be producing to entice shoppers into physical shopping.

How can we help?

Our team love to talk about retail and would be delighted to chat with you about your project.