Inter-Covid Roadmap : Retail

category - covid-19
type - trends
sector - retail
In a climate that has never been so divided, businesses are setting their sights on the re-localisation of retail. Our free Inter-Covid Roadmap report explores in detail the opportunities that now lie ahead for retailers

Read an excerpt from the report below or click here to download the full report featuring all six sectors.

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,’ says The Future Laboratory foresight editor Kathryn Bishop. ‘Beyond safety and hygiene, this will lie in a far greater understanding of communities and their needs, from flexible store formats to the civic role a retailer can play in providing experiences, jobs and supporting local industry.’

The full report is now available to download for free below. Members of our trends intelligence platform, LS:N Global, get full access to all of our trend reports 3 months before anyone else. Click here to find out more.


Published by:

21 July 2021

Author: Holly Friend, Rachel Wilson and Gursharan Panesar

Image: Modular Mailbox by Klarna, Sweden


Left: Off-White’s flagship store is a fulfilment centre and a multipurpose events space designed by Virgil Abloh and AMO Design, Miami. Right: FastAF.

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.

Values: With the pandemic accelerating our awareness of issues such as domestic violence and racial inequality, the act of shopping with purpose is increasingly important for brands and shoppers. Former athlete Lanny Smith has launched sports apparel brand Actively Black to educate Los Angeles’ Black communities on health and wellbeing at a time when they need it most, while Boots has launched an initiative to aid domestic abuse victims at its UK pharmacies.

‘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

Lab Notes

: For brands, demonstrate that you have considered the average lifestyle and routine of customers in the areas or neighbourhoods you want to target
: Continue to innovate at the intersection of physical and e-commerce, investing in last-mile commerce and digitising the high street
: Ensure that the health and safety of key workers is for life, not just for the pandemic, with sustained mental health incentives to retain the best talent
: As consumers shop with their sociopolitical values in mind, think about the inter-Covid social issues to which your brand has a responsibility to respond

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Inter-Covid Roadmap report now


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