From Black Friday to store launches, how is the coronavirus pandemic likely to affect these key events in the retail calendar?
1. Black Friday
Coronavirus may have cancelled most major retail events this year, but Black Friday on November 27, 2020, followed by Cyber Monday a few days later, will be viewed as a potential saving grace for many brands. However, with longer queue times anticipated and social distancing restrictions to remain in place to protect shoppers in-store, experts predict consumers will be more likely to participate in the sales events online. “Black Friday has already shifted online, merging with Cyber Monday to mark the official start of Christmas shopping for many consumers,” says Simon Hathaway, managing director, Europe, Middle East and Africa, at Outform. Ultimately, with 2020 so far being a catastrophic year for the majority of retailers, many will be redirecting a lot of time and resources to Black Friday in an effort to mitigate the sales decline.
2. Christmas Shopping
Christmas shopping is traditionally full of festive fun, bright lights, warm smiles and socialising. But this year, retailers will be pressured to offer smart solutions in-store or create magical moments for consumers who choose to do their Christmas shopping online. From personalised packaging to thoughtful gifting options and exceptional customer care, digital demands more attention to detail this Christmas than ever before. “Christmas shopping is an annual ritual for many,” says Hathaway. “It’s a social experience bringing families and friends together that cannot be replicated online; these sort of interactions are what’s going to revive the high street.” For bricks-and-mortar retail, however, social distancing measures and one-way systems in-store may make festive shopping a more pleasant, organised experience for those braving the shops.
3. Boxing Day sales
Over the last few years, Boxing Day has been on the decline as shoppers spend less in post-Christmas sales. Springboard, a customer activity analysis platform, reported that footfall in 2019 on Boxing Day dropped by 8.6% compared to the previous year. As pockets tighten in the pandemic, the future of Boxing Day sales is still uncertain, “A sale is psychological marketing and it works every single time,” says Financial Wellness Coach, Bola Sol. “Irrespective of current events or a recession, people will still flock to get items on sale and we may see a rise of credit card usage,” she adds.
4. Store launches
Store launches in a post-pandemic world may seem like a risky investment, but are necessary for brands to build long-standing customer relationships. COVID-19 restrictions will shape the way store launches look and feel, making it more challenging for brands to engage with customers and create a consistent footfall. “Consumers want more than just a transaction of money and goods when shopping in-store; they want an experience,” says Raj De Datta, chief executive at Bloomreach. “The winners will be brands that put the customer experience at the heart of their store launches, whatever the channel, location or products they offer.”
5. Wedding dress shopping
From finding the right style to tearful try-ons and sipping champagne with loved ones, wedding dress shopping pre-pandemic was all about the experience. With weddings in the UK limited to 30 guests, brides face less pressure to spend big on the dress. “Sustainability-conscious consumers are more likely to use wedding dress rental services,” says fashion stylist Erica Matthews. Meanwhile, brides on a budget may turn to fast fashion retailers for ready-to-wear wedding dress options. “Women can now buy bridal gowns from House of CB or ASOS that still look picture perfect for a fraction of the price,” Matthews adds.