What Christmas Under Covid Means For Retailers:

As we approach the festive period, we’re aware that it’s likely to be a very different Christmas this year. Not least for those in the retail sector, for whom it has been a prolonged and challenging year all round. With the second lockdown only just behind us, businesses will have to ramp up their online presence more so than ever before. And that’s not the only area in which companies are likely to need to adapt. So, we’re going to take a quick look at what retailers need to know to prepare for Christmas under Covid.

Cautious Consumers

During a pandemic, it’s understandable that people are more cautious than normal. And that’s not limited to being more anxious about venturing out and about. We are in a time of rising unemployment (likely to exceed 2.5 million unemployed by Christmas). So, compound this with the possibility of recession, and people are instinctively more conservative with their money. 

It’s true that the furlough payments have now been extended to March. Yet a general feeling of insecurity around people’s economic situation remains. So, it’s likely that consumers will be more careful regarding their Christmas expenditure than usual. 

Even during the 2008/2009 recession, the Christmas period saw an upward trend. Spending increased some 11% compared to the previous three months. No one knows what the situation will be for a Christmas under Covid. But it’s almost certain that an increasing number of Christmas purchases will be made online. 

Take to the internet

Having a strong online presence is going to be integral to successful retail this Christmas. As far as customers are concerned, retailers have had more than six months to adapt. By now they should have refined their online platform, and be prepared to meet consumer’s adapted needs. So, logistics around deliveries to ensure a smooth and reliable transaction are things that customers will expect as standard. 

Of course, the reality for many retailers is that living up to these expectations is a struggle. Factor in the chaos and demand of the festive season and meeting consumer needs may seem nigh on impossible. There have been so many other issues to account for this year. But, the retailers who come out on top this Christmas, will undoubtedly be those quick to adapt and fulfil their customer’s changing requirements. So, if you haven’t already ramped up your online presence, do give it some thought. And plan ahead as best you can to ensure your business safely navigates the festive season.

Written by Ben Griffiths

Ben is a financial planner from our Whiteley office. While he specialises in pension planning, Ben is also able to generalise into all other areas of financial planning.

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