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    Is your High Street opening up for business?

    Is your High Street opening up for business?

    Are you looking forward to welcoming customers back?

    So 2021 is well underway, and we are (hopefully) heading towards the end of lockdown #3. The retail industry has taken a massive hit over the past year, coping with several lockdowns and a whole host of regulations and restrictions too. Retailers have had to react and adapt to ensure their businesses stay afloat quickly.

    Many retail premises have had to close during lockdowns unless they qualify as essential. The industry has struggled across the board – from giants like Arcadia and EWM to hundreds of independent stores and businesses. In fact, the sector was the worst hit for job losses in 2020, and non-food sales dropped by 24%, the biggest fall on record.

    What did we learn?

    It’s been a difficult year; there’s no doubt about it. But on reflection, retail owners should look back and be proud of how they have responded to the crisis. They jumped into action launching or re-launching their businesses online, creating new websites and e-commerce systems, sorting delivery services and setting up ‘click (or call)-and collect options. Many had to alter their stores’ layout, some changed the products they supplied, and all had to implement vigorous cleaning measures, set-up sanitising stations, and arrange signage. Constantly changing regulations and lockdowns at short notice proved a huge challenge. With prospective profits seriously dented by the adaptions’ costs, retailers who have managed to weather the storm can certainly afford to feel quietly smug.

    “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards”.

    Vern Law

    And now, as we approach yet another new start, plans must be refreshed and renewed once again. It’s time to boost social media presence with regular posts and videos and ensure websites are up to date. Keeping abreast of all new regulations and time scales is essential. Premises must be prepared for customers, and if possible, events and competitions should be scheduled or launched to keep momentum. For some practical tips about resuming business post-lockdown, look at the Ebook – The 7 Things Retailers Got Wrong in 2020.

    We can plan but we cannot predict the future

    We can’t predict how the public will return to the high street, whether they will come flooding back or slowly trickle through the doors. There are many factors at play, of course. Many people will have less surplus cash, and many will have embraced online shopping. They will perhaps be less inclined to revert, but there will undoubtedly be many that are eager to return to browsing and shopping in real retail premises. You may even meet new customers who have discovered you online during a lockdown.

    Make it your goal for 2021 to give your existing customers the very best version of you. Don’t let them be disappointed when they can finally return. Ensure their experience is everything they have dreamt of over those long, locked down months. And don’t stop there either. Throw everything you have into growing your business, attracting and keeping new customers.

    All going well; this spring should mark a fresh start for everyone, so make it count for your customers and make it count for your business.

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