Is this pandemic the final nail in the coffin for the High Street?

Cath Kidston, Debenhams and Laura Ashley are just three household brands that, unfortunately, won’t outlive the coronavirus.

It seems logical that Covid-19 is merely the final nail in their coffins, and that there were already significant issues within these businesses before the pandemic was announced; however, it’s clear that the unprecedented times we’re living through will leave their mark on society in more ways than one.

Though many well-known restaurants and airlines are also in trouble, it’s the High Street we’re focusing on in this post.

The internet had already done a lot of damage to the markets and main thoroughfares of our towns and cities - even before we’d heard of what was unfolding in Wuhan. Local councils were battling to increase footfall in town centres through various initiatives well before now (yet they were likely the same councillors giving the green light to out-of-town shopping centres, which have also had a significant adverse effect on high streets across the country).

Certainly, for small businesses, e-commerce has been a revelation. Whilst big brands could afford to pay High Street business rates and the rent for units in the shopping centres, independents struggled – the effect being that the High Street wasn’t a destination anymore. Only the big guys could take up position. The same shops and brands meant you could be anywhere, in any town. Cookie-cutter retail. In view of this, there wasn’t enough for shoppers to draw them away from their computers and online ordering.

E-commerce was already ingrained in most brands’ business models before the pandemic, though a few smaller companies still didn’t see the merit in pushing online sales when they were battling to see a return on the costs of their bricks and mortar business.

Then the coronavirus came into our lives…which is where we stand today.

Businesses, unless they sold food, have been forced to close. No one can visit the High Street, no matter what ‘shopper experience’ or ambience was planned. Everything has stopped…and for how long, at this point, no one knows.

For those businesses who already had an e-commerce arm to their enterprise, it’s simply been a switch of routine (no doubt it has affected their earnings, given consumers’ incomes at the moment – but that’s another issue). With an e-commerce platform in existence, sales are, at least, possible. And, the thing is, with some forms of social distancing likely to be enforced for a long time after this current lockdown, it may be the only viable route for many businesses to stay afloat.

If there are business owners out there who have previously disregarded online selling, there are no prizes for continuing this stance.

Novus Marketing Solutions helps small businesses achieve greater sales and growth, and we truly believe that e-commerce is the biggest opportunity for almost every business, post-pandemic. It’s not just retail that will need to adapt – lots of industries will need to change once coronavirus is under our control.

So, can the High Street survive social distancing as well as our greater reliance on e-commerce? Only time will tell.

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Telephone: Brett on his work mobile 07983575934

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