A simple walk to the local shops or a drive to the nearest town and it is immediately obvious to all that life has started to return to normal and many businesses have immediately sprung back to life. The retail sector has already seen sales explode again and it is experiencing the immediate benefit from all the pent-up demand that has built up in consumers that have been longing for some hands-on retail therapy rather than the more distanced online variant.
However, it is the hospitality sector that has seen the biggest bounce, despite the fact that at this stage the doors are only open to outside spaces and not to the warmer, cosier spaces inside. Almost every venue has taken the time during the last lockdown to maximise covered and heated outside spaces to ensure that they are able to make the most of every opportunity available, whatever the weather. Not only were pubs and restaurants full, but many seem to be fully booked for the foreseeable future.
We are already seeing evidence of the fact that consumers are more than ready to spend some of the excess savings accumulated over the last year, and to make up for lost time socialising and trying to do all the many things that were all taken for granted as . As was mentioned last week, it is predicted that consumers will spend an extra £35bn from those extra savings between April and September this year and it has already started even though many activities are still restricted.
It would seem that there are two very important takeaways to be learned from the last week. Firstly, that all businesses are continuing to adapt very successfully and that those that show the most imagination and the best customer service are the ones that are best place to bounce back more quickly than their competitors. Secondly, that despite the hard times that are, hopefully, now behind us, there are some very big and exciting opportunities ahead.
The question that businesses of every size should be asking themselves now is how best to position themselves to make sure that they are best placed to grab the future and all the benefits that will flow from doing this correctly. There is of course no simple, single answer but a rather more complex answer, made up of many different parts. Let us set aside the statutory answer of making your business Covid compliant and adhering to whatever measures are required at that specific time and concentrate on the commercial aspects.
The shift that we first saw a year ago, away from hard sell and towards better customer service and making the customer feel wanted is likely to be a permanent shift, at least in part. Those businesses that that fully understand that will benefit and those that don’t will lose out. But the biggest difference is that the shape of the future has certainly been changed over the course of the last 12 months. The way that people work, where from, what their expectations are, and so much more, has altered in some way or another, and will forevermore impact what businesses will thrive and how those businesses need to act towards their customers.
So, the businesses that will be best placed to grab the future are those that recognise that they need to act differently, and that many new opportunities have been created that are waiting to be seized upon and exploited. Or, to paraphrase the famed TV series Star Trek, businesses need to boldly go no where no business has gone before.
20th April 2021
in British English