Business advisory firm, Deloitte, have found consumers have increased spending with local and independent retail during the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the lockdown’s impact on non-essential high street retail, Deloitte found spending at local off-licenses, greengrocers and convenience stores rose 40% in April.
The firm also believe that the pandemic could have a longer-term positive impact for local and independent retail. 46% of consumers reported that they are more motivated to support local businesses, with a greater sense of community spirit and resilience due to the crisis.
This positive outlook comes despite largely negative national sales statistics for the high street. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) retail sales report revealed that British retail sales fell by a record 18.1% in April, with clothing sales falling by more than half. The long-term prospects also look bleak for retail spending, with estimates suggesting that the 2020-21 financial year will remain nearly 20% down on levels seen in 2019.
As part of its study on the high street, Deloitte has identified five key impacts currently being faced by the sector: supply chain agility; an increased focus on direct to consumer delivery models; low liquidity; delayed shipping on seasonal offerings and emerging capital expenditure freezes.
Simon Bedford (pictured), partner at Deloitte in the North West, said:
The retail space has certainly been one of those most affected by the global pandemic, with previously bustling high streets becoming eerily quiet across the UK. While it is unsurprising to see the latest sales statistics, it is important to remember that out of adversity comes opportunity, and consumers have instead used this time to foster a sense of community spirit and support local retailers.
“As we look to build back better, the challenge will now be for local authorities, working in partnership with businesses, to get our high streets back open again, as well as ensuring that the localised support we have seen during lockdown is continued once major retailers return.”