If you are as old as myself, you can remember when if you went shopping, you either piled in the car and drove “down town” into the city centre, or took the bus or trolley to the city centre.
You always had your corner shops, but the main shopping district was in town.
Then malls became fashionable and spring up everywhere. If you need to go shopping, or just wanted to get out a bit, you went to the mall.
As consumers, when the Internet came along, and cyber-shopping and technology and delivery services got better, many of us began doing much of out shopping online. That is how we created “Cyber Monday”, the Monday after “Black Friday”, which became the busiest Internet shopping day.
If you take our move towards shopping online, couple it with a pandemic, you then have a recipe for a massive change in not only how we shop, but how and what we buy.
A Quick History Lesson
The 1918 Pandemic or Spanish Flu as it became known, was not the first, but certainly one of most deadly pandemics in the world. It was estimated that 500 million caught the virus, which was a third of the world’s population at that time, and that 50 million people around the world died from the virus.
Of course in 1918 there was no Internet, and also no real mass communication as we have today.
So no way to get the news and word out about health concerns, what to do to protect oneself, and also no shopping online.
Retail Changes and The High Street
Over the past 10 years we have seen many retailers go out of business, remember Woolworths, BHS, Borders, Blockbuster, Maplin, Barratts, even Poundland, all gone. And there are many more that could be listed.
There are stores even this year going into Administration, such as Debenhams.
The point here is that retail shopping on the High Street had been changing prior to the Covid crisis. Many of us were doing more and more shopping online. We may go into a store to do a little showrooming, seeing an item in person, then buying it online, but retail sales on the High Streets has been dropping.
Once again, couple this decline in sales in the stores with a pandemic that for almost a year you could not even get out to a store to buy anything, add to the mix the power of the Internet and being able to buy anything online, and you have the recipe for a changing consumer.
Some Research I Have Done
I carried out some personal research over the past 8 months, in part to get some answers, and in part to make some extra money.
I took 2 different jobs in retail, one was around the Christmas holiday, and one when the lockdown was lifted in April.
When our lockdown was initially lifted, in October the stores were flocked with buyers, a huge pent-up demand for anything was in place, and the stores were busy.
Then being locked down again for a month, and opening back up before Christmas only increased this demand, that and the fact it was Christmas time.
The new year arrives and we are thrown into a lock down again, for another 4 months.
When the stores opened back up in April 2021, they were expecting the same surge of shoppers, it didn’t happen, at least not in the stores I researched, and worked in.
There were good sales figures and foot traffic, but not as before. Yes, in part the stores had to limit the number of people allowed in the store, but there were no queues to get in.
We as shoppers and consumers have changed.
Many stores are staying afloat due to allowing shoppers to buy online, and then pick-up their purchases at the store, a “click and collect” approach. This took off during the lock down, and has seemed to permeate in the shoppers mind, so they carry on using this method of shopping and also straight forward online shopping.
While this helps continue with sales and revenue, it creates a need for less store employees. More warehouse, delivery, and other employees.
The way we shop was and has been changing, the pandemic has accelerated those changes.