Inter-Covid Roadmap 2021

category - covid-19
type - trends
sector - retail
With the Covid-19 vaccine rollout offering a chance to rebuild our societies and economies, our new Inter-Covid Roadmap 2021 Report presents a host of new opportunities for brands and businesses

2021 will be the year in which we begin to overhaul the systems and industries that were the foundations of society for decades. Talk of the new normal should be left behind. Instead, the focus for businesses needs to be on creating the new extra-ordinary.

This marks a seismic shift in a consumer mindset that will have varying implications for different sectors. As the long-term impacts of economic collapse, remote working, expedited digitisation and a collective health crisis are felt on a micro-level, organisations will be the ones to foster a re-ignited sense of optimism and rebuild their entire businesses for a polarised commercial landscape.

After all, the responsibility for creating safer, greener and more robust systems is being placed on businesses as never before. A global study by Edelman recently found that 55% of consumers believe brands are more accountable than government – and faster to take action to change things for the better.

This is a rare opportunity to change course because it won’t be long before the societal antibodies from this once-in-a-century pandemic begin to fade,’ says Toby Ord, senior research fellow at Oxford University.

In 12 months, we have come far from the novelties that came with the first wave of global lockdowns. In stark contrast to what was initially dubbed a collective sense of solidarity, the disparities in government action and progress between countries have left the world at startlingly different stages of the pandemic response.

Truly disruptive behaviour, services and business actions have taken place across sectors. Wellbeing and social inequality have been thrust into mainstream consciousness, businesses have changed at a moment’s notice, consumers have adopted entirely new ways of living and working on a mass scale, and brands have reset antiquated missions to focus solely on solutions.

In our new Inter-Covid research report, published on LS:N Global, we reveal some of the impacts and opportunities across key consumer sectors. We also share crucial next steps for brands, clients and operations as we collectively navigate the pandemic. Sign up to LS:N Global and get access to the full report and a 1-hour webinar launching on 12 March.

Read on to discover a preview of the Inter-Covid Roadmap for the retail sector.

Published by:

3 March 2021

Author: Holly Friend, Rachel Wilson and Gursharan Panesar

Image: Hyperlocal Micromarket by Shift, Rotterdam


Open Like Never Before by Coca Cola, UK


Last year, we explored the ways in which the retail sector adjusted to the pandemic by refocusing on trust, support and safety. While retailers were initially hit hard by plummeting sales, once the sector established a level of security – redistributing staff, halting rental services and enhancing hygiene – retailers took the opportunity to rebuild around the digital economy.

The number of new stores on the e-commerce platform Shopify increased by 71% in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the first, while Amazon has enjoyed a 74% boost to its share price in 2020. The move to e-commerce, however, does not preclude an appetite to return to in-store experiences in the inter-Covid period, when shoppers will be looking for human connection, in-person customer service, and serendipitous browsing. Retail Think Tank predicts that UK retailers should prepare for a brighter outlook in the second half of 2021, with sales growth expected to be between flat and +3% for the year.

With flexible working set to remain a feature of our daily lives, the re-localisation of retail will provide new opportunities for brands, as local consumption continues to be adopted during tight lockdowns and tourists fail to provide footfall.

‘While e-commerce has become second nature for shoppers and brands of all sizes in the past year, the challenge now for retailers is how to encourage footfall back to physical stores’
Kathryn Bishop, foresight editor, The Future Laboratory
The Klarna Future Shopping Lab, Sweden

Retail Opportunities

Bricks and mortar: Stores are embedding the hyper-reactivity of the digital world into their physical infrastructures. We Are Locals, for example, creates one-stop e-commerce platforms for high street retailers, bringing local florists, grocers and bookshops into the virtual realm, while Virgil Abloh’s recently opened Off-White flagship store in Miami points to a future in which retail spaces will not be set in stone but will be able to providea malleable shopping experience.

Employment: During the health crisis, all eyes have been on retailers that failed to provide adequate support for employees and prioritised profits over people. A UK Benenden Health study shows that 38% of retail firms have seen an employee leave their company because their mental wellbeing wasn’t cared for. Retailers are also equipping staff with the tools they need to provide mental health support to others, such as skincare brand Dermalogica’s industry-wide EQ course.

Logistics: Although customers are shopping from home, convenience is more essential than ever. As such, third-party services are elevating, expediting and securing the delivery of online orders. In New York and Los Angeles, FAST AF aims to deliver items from select popular brands to shoppers in an average of 27 minutes, while Route is a visual package tracking service that allows shoppers to view and track multiple orders in real time.

‘UK retailers should prepare for a brighter outlook in the second half of 2021, with sales growth expected to be between flat and +3%’
Source: Retail Think Tank

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