Small businesses throughout England will be forced to shut their doors during a second coronavirus lockdown, while those online will likely thrive through delivery and click and collect.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on 31st October that England will enter a second lockdown from 5th November to 2nd December 2020. During this period, all non-essential stores will be closed, including (but not limited to):
- Clothing and electronics stores
- Tobacco and vape shops
- Leisure centres, gyms, and sporting facilities including swimming pools
- Entertainment venues (concert halls, theatres, cinemas, museums)
- Hair and beauty salons, spas
Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and others who provide essential services are allowed to remain open. Restaurants must close but can provide takeaway and delivery.
However, non-essential retail will be allowed to remain open for delivery and click and collect services. In other words, businesses who operate online will be the ones who are most likely to survive and thrive during this lockdown.
Throughout the first lockdown, many stores were forced to shut. By the end of June over 76,000 small businesses, in London alone, had permanently closed due to the lockdown.
However, there was some good news too. While the lockdown had devastating effects on businesses who had only a brick and mortar presence, those who were able to reach their customers either via home delivery or click and collect services saw unprecedented levels of success.
In a survey conducted by EKM, 63% of brick and mortar shops who also had an online presence said that closing their physical store did not affect their business.
Across the EKM platform, a 100% increase in online orders was observed, with platform-wide figures for overall orders rising higher than records previously only achieved on major shopping holidays like Black Friday.
“We feel so fortunate that we were already online and ran our business from home so we were able to carry on. At one point we were dispatching triple of what would be a normal year – it was crazy for a while!” -EKM Customer
Towards the end of the initial lockdown, research showed that consumers would continue to shop online more than they did before the lockdown. Convenience and safety became key drivers with consumers looking to reduce the amount of time spent inside stores.
Before England’s second lockdown, Wales also entered a second lockdown on 23 October, which not only required non-essential shops to shut but also forbade large retailers like Tesco from selling non-essential items.
This action from the Welsh government pushed the citizens to turn to online shopping and caused a 32% rise in revenue on orders placed from postcodes in Wales.
Although non-essential products are still allowed to be sold in England in large multi-product retailers, speciality shops will be forced to shut their doors, meaning small businesses will be at the risk of losing out.
For these shops, if they do not have a way to reach their customers online they will likely feel the stress of this second round of restrictions.
Major retailers like Next, IKEA and Apple have announced that they will be offering click and collect services in their otherwise-closed stores throughout the lockdown in England.
This means that click and collect services will be ever-important for small businesses with a brick and mortar presence, while those who have operated online in the past will likely continue to see record orders and sales.
If these small retailers want to have a chance of competing with the big dogs, they will need to embrace new ways to reach their customers.
One thing is clear. If small businesses want to succeed in this second wave of coronavirus lockdown, they MUST be online.