Shopping habits ‘changed dramatically one year on, according to BRC

Shopping habits ‘changed dramatically one year on, according to BRC

Shopping habits have “changed dramatically” a year on from the first empty shelves and shuttered high street stores, according to retail experts.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of British Retail Consortium (BRC) trade body, told the Press Association that the current retail environment feels “a world apart” from a year ago despite the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the UK.

Frantic shoppers

In March 2020, frantic shoppers left supermarket shelves empty of essential items such toilet paper and flour amid rising numbers of coronavirus deaths.

“It all feels quite surreal now but on March 21 I was speaking as part one of the coronavirus briefing with George Eustice (the environment secretary) to make it clear we had enough food,” she said.

“It’s easy to forget the degree of uncertainty. A lot of retailers were closing before it was restricted and face masks weren’t even really a thing.

Dramatic change

“Everything has changed dramatically.

“I think a lot of people’s new habits will stick because plenty of shoppers will have done things in a new way and been pleased,” she said.

“But, in the short term at least, there will be really good demand to get out and go to shops because people have missed that connectivity, that first-hand experience.”

Retail analyst Richard Hyman shares this view and highlighted that the outlook continues to be uncertain a year after non-essential stores first shut their doors.

Re-imagine retail space

“There needs to be real imagination to reinvigorate some of these retail spaces and formats and that doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

“There is only so much demand for office space and food courts so it’s inevitable we are going to see these areas continue to change and develop in many years to come.”