Impact of COVID on British high streets is a catalyst for retail change, say experts

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The closure of more than 750,000 business when the first lockdown was imposed on March 23 drove the highest number of new e-commerce offerings over a eight-month period.

The migration of independent businesses to online platforms has prompted huge growth in online retail over the period of the nationwide lockdown, according to a report published by online marketplace DownYourHighStreet.

But with the new lockdown restrictions forcing about to 363,000 specialist shops to temporarily close in the run-up to Christmas, retailers will miss out on one of the biggest sales weeks of the year.

The report highlighted a shift in consumer habits, notably a drop in loyalty to brands, increased ease in answering questions about themselves, and a sharp rise in online shopping.

But as more companies adapt to the pandemic, one question remains: Which newly developed behaviours will stick in post-pandemic times? 

The report concluded the following likely outcomes; a permanent flight to online platforms for retail, the need for hygiene transparency and a return to basics and value.

Sectors which have prospered as a result of the pandemic include Technology, Biotech and Pharmaceuticals, Work From Home Firms and Online Retailers. 

The Centre for Retail Research report for vouchercodes.co.uk predicted online sales will be nearly £2bn higher at £5.8bn while stores will miss out on £3bn of business, to take just £1.7bn, an outcome which has in return seen a spike in demands for delivery companies. 

Online sales were up 61% in the first week of November compared with the same period last year, according to the internet industry body IMRG. 

The figures indicate November is well on track to be a record-breaking month for online retail, the result of a combination of Black Friday discounts and coronavirus restrictions. 

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