The start to 2021 has felt horribly familiar, with Lockdown 2 bringing all of the challenges of Lockdown 1, but with less banana bread.
The Geolytix Retail Recovery Index shows levels of activity across the 5,500+ Retail Places we measure dropping back to 27% of pre-Covid levels – very similar to Lockdown 1. The last 4 weeks have been very static, again replicating the pattern we saw last year. Parades and Village Centres have been much more resilient, with activity levels averaging around 50%; City Centres remain decimated – London West End sat at 4% last week. So far, so similar.
But this time we have got a pretty good sense of what recovery might look like, with the obvious hope that the vaccination programme accelerates the return to normality versus last year and, most importantly, avoids a relapse. A slow and steady recovery once lockdown eases beckons – but retailers are at least better prepared from the experience of last year. The consistent stories of higher conversion rates from footfall, and higher average transaction sizes, will hopefully hold true again this year, and provide a brighter outlook for those who have been able to weather the storm.
A whole host of questions then beckon. Which customer changes will persist, and which will revert? Which businesses have changed forever as a result of the challenges forced on them, or innovations created by them, by circumstances in 2020? How on earth do you treat what has happened in 2020 in modelling forward plans? More of this from Alison in her upcoming blog.
It feels like the next few months will mean the new year still feels a lot like the old year, but we take hope from Groundhog Day. The curse was eventually broken.