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Looking ahead – what we can learn from European retailers

As lockdown restrictions look set to be eased over the coming weeks, Bira has spoken to shop owners in Europe to find out the shape of the retail landscape, post Covid-19.

Many countries in continental Europe such as Spain and Italy are a few weeks ahead of the UK with restrictions being lifted and shops, cafes and restaurants allowed to start trading again.

Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre spoke to retailers trading in some of those countries across clothing, furniture and homewares. The key findings were:

  • There has been stored-up demand – evident in the first couple of weeks, or first few days for some before returning to steadier trade
  • Customers want to know they are safe and cannot get enough hand sanitiser. That is the one item/ product they all want to use and all retailers were surprised by how much is being used
  • Consumer also want to know employees are also safe
  • Retailers need to think about how to manage the door entry and queues. Avoid groups of people going in at the same time as they might not all be shopping. Families are a challenge to manage and staff need to be well-trained in how best to deal with them
  • Some stores with larger ticket items (e.g. furniture), operating an appointment system and working well
  • Footfall is down. Capacity is set at one customer per 10 sq m of sales space (likely to be applied in UK) but conversion rate is high, i.e. once in the shop customer will buy. Not so much browsing. This limit also places a cap on the number of customers at any one time but a consistent number throughout the day
  • Retail parks doing better than city centres. Shopping centres very mixed. Consumers seem to be staying more local, not wanting to use public transport

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