The April issue of ERT is out now!
Editor’s comment: Retailers fling open their doors!
So restrictions are finally starting to ease across the UK, and certain things are beginning to feel slightly normal again, like catching up with friends and family… and going to the shops! At long last, retailers were able to fling open their doors earlier this month and welcome customers back inside their stores. It’s a huge step forward, and from what I hear across the industry it’s been an incredibly busy few weeks for all of you, which is brilliant!
I have spoken in previous issues about consumers’ pent-up demand following this latest lockdown and I think it’s safe to say we definitely saw that notion play out on high streets across the country. Companies like Primark, JD Sports and TK Maxx saw hordes of customers lining the streets when they reopened; shoppers began queuing at 7am at Primark shops in London’s Oxford Street and Birmingham as the fashion retailer reopened 161 of its stores!
Elsewhere, John Lewis opened up most of its doors to reasonable crowds – I think proving that despite its online counterpart, customers still wanted that in-store experience where they could touch, feel and interact with products… a very important element for all types of businesses across the consumer electricals industry.
I say ‘most’ as the retail giant did in fact permanently close eight of its 42 stores in a “rebalancing” operation due to the pandemic and the “pronounced shift to online” it said.
When I caught up with Managing Director, Matt Renaut, recently he said the team was ready and raring to go!”
“It’s been a long third lockdown and while we have been dealing with customers over the phone or online, we can’t wait to finally open our doors again and invite people back into the store. You can’t beat a proper conversation with a customer while the products are there in front of you to demonstrate. We’ve also got our home cinema room which we’re still keen to show off, and finally we can again!”
And in East Anglia, Essex and the Midlands, Hughes Electrical reopened all 32 of its stores on 12 April.
Said Chairman, Robert Hughes: “It is a great boost for us to have all our doors open again – and for the staff to get back to work. We know just how important it is for our customers to be able to visit their local store, where they can gauge TV picture quality for example, or see how effective a vacuum cleaner is first-hand, while having the opportunity to ask questions face-to-face.”
With some simple procedures in place, retail stores can continue to be safe places to visit. And with the world slowly edging back towards normality – or, to coin a much-used phrase, something akin to a new normal – I’m sure our towns’ and cities’ high streets will enjoy their much-needed reinvigoration.
Jack Cheeseman – Editor – firstname.lastname@example.org