Industry insight: the impact of Covid-19 on nursery and pre-school retailers
It’s been a tough year for the retail industry with 2020’s average footfall dropping by more than 50% compared to the previous year.
Like so many businesses, nursery and pre-school retailers are uncertain how 2021 will pan out. Dan Whytock from Down Your High Street, believes there are possible positives before us and has some tips and advice.
Approach your landlord
Not every landlord is coming down hard and demanding rents, with some offering rent discounts. If you are struggling to pay your rent, it is always best to contact your landlord before you fall behind – you may receive some good news. Similarly, many suppliers are being sympathetic to customers who explain any difficulties they are having. Remember, there are plenty of people who are doing much more than paying lip service to the idea of us all being in this together.
Shop local & stay safe
Supporting each other through the pandemic has also encouraged people to buy more from small, local, independent retailers and businesses. Shop Safe, Shop Local campaigns are likely to feature heavily in 2021. And while many people have seen incomes drop, others have seen their disposable incomes increase. No commuting and far fewer visits to pubs, restaurants and cinemas has boosted many bank balances.
Huge amounts of cash tied up in excess stock is a challenge for many businesses. If that is you, give some thought to a discounting strategy; retailers across many sectors lost out on Black Friday and January sales, but customers love a bargain all year round.
Whatever your sales strategy, online is going to be key to getting it in front of customers. E-commerce platforms, such as Shopify and Wix, are free initially, with fees only due when trial periods end. DownYourHighStreet has removed its monthly fee for all new customers; all they pay now is a commission of 15% on sales.
Humans are social animals. We need to interact, and we respond positively to loyalty. Customers enjoy retailers recognising them and providing loyalty benefits, and retailers should appreciate their loyal customers and make a point of keeping them. Loyalty, however, is not an offline-only feature. Online loyalty programmes are provided by many companies, such as HTK. By collecting customer data and combining it with purchase data, retailers can encourage more sales through personalised communication and offers.
What’s the future?
Despite the current tough times, shops are never going to go away, particularly in parts of the retail industry where touch and feel are important to shoppers, such as the nursery sector. There is an amount of uncertainty about whether something will be right when buying online, particularly when its for a first baby, but you can help mitigate this by thinking through your returns policy. Come up with a system that suits you and your customers.
Despite the UK’s encouraging vaccine rollout, the pressure of the pandemic on independent retailers is not going to go away anytime soon, and the legacy of all the pressures retailers are under is likely to hover over many for years to come. Those retailers who do adapt and take advantage of people’s willingness to shop online, will be the ones most likely to recover soonest.
About the author
Dan Whytock is Managing Director of DownYourHighStreet.com – a free to join, low commission online marketplace on a mission to create the world’s longest high street by connecting community with commerce and giving the Great British High Street an online presence. DownYourHighStreet.com hosts thousands of products that were previously unavailable online, from100s of independent retailers, allowing sellers to create or integrate their online presence saving them time and the costs traditionally associated with establishing a visible online presence.