Retail sales rebound as strategy becomes priority

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Predictions of a retail rebound appear to be becoming a reality, with May sales skyrocketing at the fastest pace on record.

The welcome news of renewed purchasing enthusiasm comes as retailers look to their strategy for the post Covid-19 period and new consumer trends begin emerging.

So, let’s take a quick look at the current retail landscape.

Strategy the retail priority

In response to the altered landscape in the wake of Covid-19, strategy has emerged as the major focus for retailers as they look to embrace a new normal and an altered customer.

According to a recent report by the Retail Doctor, 88 per cent of retailers stated they have changed their operating focus for the next 12 to 18 months, with one in four noting they are spending more than half of their time on post Covid-19 strategy development.

This strategy takes into account a changed consumer and altered purchasing behaviour.

A changed customer

The restrictions and fear of Covid-19 not only changed the temporary lifestyle of customers, it also altered their spending habits and purchasing behaviour for the longer term.

Convenience, contactless purchasing and online buying all emerged as major trends, while Retail Doctor also noted the products consumers sought to buy have changed to suit an altered lifestyle.

Their report found:

  • 50 per cent of retailers expect in-store sales to decrease post Covid-19
  • 80 per cent of retailers expected online sales to increase
  • 78 per cent believed it would take at least nine months for optimum performance to return, with 20 per cent of those noting it could be at least 20 months

That said, 41 per cent of retailers still planned to open new stores within the different landscape. When asked whether Covid-19 had impacted their store opening strategy, the results indicated:

  • Two per cent said they planned to open more stores
  • 20 per cent said they still planned to open the same amount
  • 19 per cent said they would open more stores, but less than previously planned
  • 19 per cent said it hadn’t impacted their store opening strategy
  • 26 per cent said they weren’t planning to open new stores anyway
  • 15 per cent said they had cancelled new store openings

Cashless shift

Retail sales rebound as strategy becomes priority

Meanwhile, the Australian Financial Review has reported more and more retailers are going cashless as consumers turn to the safety of non-cash payments.

They reported ATM withdrawals in April were down 30 per cent on March and down 40 per cent on a year ago, while one retailer noted cash payments had fallen to less than 10 per cent of his store’s total sales value.

It’s a similar story in other countries like the UK where ATM transactions have fallen by 60 per cent throughout the Covid crisis, and the US where contactless payments are up 150 per cent since March last year.

The takeaway?

In terms of takeaways, it’s clear both retail and the consumer service are changing. It’s equally clear many retailers are prepared to meet the challenges ahead with fresh strategies that embrace an altered landscape.

Online retail and cashless uptake appear here to stay, but when retail offers this convenience, New Zealand consumers still seem more than willing to spend.

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