Last week saw the re-opening of many shops and businesses in England and, judging by the queues outside some stores, this was a welcome event for fans of retail therapy.
Indeed, many high streets reported a positive first day in terms of footfall – we saw figures showing an increase of nearly 300 per cent year-on-year in some London boroughs, which was much-needed considering trade had been down by more than 70 per cent for the first half of 2020 in certain areas.
There are undoubtedly plenty of differences in this ‘new normal’, though, which most of our boutiques will be having to adapt to on an almost day-by-day basis, so changeable is the situation.
Jewellery outlets will probably have fewer staff and only let so many customers in at a time, while that all-important two-metre rule remains in place at least until this week, if news reports are to be believed.
It’s also likely that hand-washing facilities and plastic screens will be placed in-store to keep both staff and shoppers safe.
However, in this uncertain retail environment, it’s important for brands to go above and beyond those compulsory safety measures if they are to keep attracting customers. Although June 15th 2020 saw a spike in high street footfall, it was significantly down the following day, suggesting the public needs more convincing before they’re completely comfortable with shopping again.
This is reflected in recent polls; according to an EY Future Consumer Index survey, 63 per cent of UK consumers are likely to buy from those taking measures to fight the outbreak, while 57 per cent will spend more on those that are supporting the community.
At the moment, it’s clearly all about reassurance and retaining that sense of ‘showing the face behind the brand’ we saw during lockdown – people understandably want to know they can trust the places where they’re venturing out to.
Professional Jeweller magazine also raised an interesting point, which was that consumers are suddenly spending more on gifts for other people than they might be on themselves as they seek to show their appreciation for cherished loved ones they haven’t seen for months.
This means there should still be opportunities to showcase treats such as inexpensive costume jewellery for this boom in ‘shopping with a heart’ and gifting we could see over the coming weeks – as long as it’s done with a personal touch.
It’s certainly a tough time for small businesses and you can only keep doing what you’ve been excelling at so far: reminding customers you’re ready to safely provide for them and demonstrating your great range of affordable products in the heart of the local community.
As ever at Oceanic, we’re here for you and we’re rooting for you.