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Aug 27, 2020
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UK retail unprepared for second wave - Brightpearl survey

Published
Aug 27, 2020

With the number of coronavirus cases rising again across Europe, the threat of a second wave continues to cast a shadow over the UK economy. But according to a new survey, more than half of UK retailers have made no preparations for a second wave in the autumn or winter.


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In fact, Brightpearl, a digital operations platform, said only 56% of retail companies believe their business could survive the devastating impact of a new lockdown.

The health and beauty sector is the least prepared, with 75% of companies saying they have made no changes to their business model in the event of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Fashion is also showing worrying signs, with 62% of fashion brands saying they are unprepared. 

Overall, fewer than half of retailers are planning any further digital investment to better prepare their business for future spikes in the virus. Still, the Brightpearl survey found that the sector is accelerating its shift towards digital and away from bricks-and-mortar stores.

In fact, 56% of retailers plan to switch their retail focus to online over the next 12 months and nearly 40% have seen higher online sales in recent times. 

Unsurprisingly, the shift will come at the expense of the high street, with a fifth of those surveyed saying they will close physical stores in the next year. Sport and leisure brands are planning the most closures, followed by electrical firms, fashion brands and home and DIY stores.

Brightpearl CEO Derek O’Carroll said: “Covid-19 is the retail equivalent of a meteor impact: an existential event that changes the composition of the industry and, sadly, as we’ve witnessed, the eradication of many businesses.

“We’ve seen huge digital transformation in the retail industry in a matter of months as companies look to adapt to the disruption, but the majority simply haven’t had the time to consider and plan for what the future looks like post-pandemic. That’s a dangerous position to be in, especially with the looming threat of a second wave of the virus.”

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