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May 19, 2020

UK consumers may be willing to return to shops by June

There is likely to be a shift towards high street shopping in the UK when non-essential stores reopen next month, an analyst has said.

By Michelle Russell

There is likely to be a shift towards high street shopping in the UK when non-essential stores reopen next month, an analyst has said.

As retailers begin to open UK stores from the beginning of June – at the earliest – they can expect to see a shift in footfall with consumers more willing to visit town centres as opposed to other shopping destinations, says data and analytics firm GlobalData.

“Local town centres in particular will be better protected,” says Sofie Willmott, lead analyst at GlobalData. “Consumers, many of whom are likely to be working from home for a prolonged period of time, will prefer to make a short journey to their nearby high street (by driving or walking) rather than travelling unnecessarily to reach a shopping destination, like a supermall or a city centre that they may have previously visited due to the proximity to their workplace.”

The presence of independent retailers as well as other local businesses in town centres will also appeal to shoppers as many will want to support small local companies at this time with a sense of community being amplified for many during the pandemic, Willmott says.

“The hardest hit major location will be out of town shopping centres and supermalls as consumers will be put off by the large number of people that could potentially be visiting at the same time and the difficulty of sticking to social distancing.

“Although stringent safety procedures will help reassure shoppers, it will be harder to convince many people to travel to supermalls and many may feel unsure about spending their day, outside of their home, browsing primarily for non-essential clothing and footwear items,” she adds.

UK retailers are set to face numerous challenges as non-essential stores do re-open, including the high costs of implementing safety measures, the need to gain shoppers’ trust, and increased supply chain costs.

Research earlier this month showed the reopening of the UK high street will only succeed if retailers maintain a strong online presence, with social distancing measures meaning lower footfall.

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