It is known even since the beginning that the Coronavirus pandemic affects some activities like offline transactions. Even when buyers can buy products online, the value to spend must be not as many as before for the decrease in income.
However, it seems that the situation is getting better. At least, it is by seeing groups of people who go to High Streets and other shopping centers in the UK this weekend. However, the sellers should not expect that the number of buyers will be as numerous as before. In fact, it is still far below the number before the pandemic.
There are many reasons why people are still afraid of buying products offline including in shopping centers like High Street. The warning of virus transmission is still all around. Making the crowd is considered violating the health protocol so that they may not think that it is a good thing to do on the weekend.
The First Weekend of the Store Opening
While many customers still think twice about buying things in the stores, this weekend is a great expectation for the sellers. Yes, it is the first weekend since the re-opening of many stores in the UK on Wednesday. It is not exaggerating for sure if the sellers and businessmen really wish that it will work before Christmas. Moreover, there are two lockdowns regulated by the government before that.
Only a Quarter of the Number in 2019
It is reasonable if the sellers want their wishes this Christmas will come true. But at the same time, they must be realistic as well since, in fact, the number of customers who come to the store is only around a quarter of the number in 2019. It is based on the survey conducted by a market research company, Springboard. In the UK entirely, the number of customers decreases by around 30% from the same weekend in December last year.
Following the conditions, there are many businesses and retailers in the UK that are considered a loss and even bankrupt. One of them is the retail of Topshop Arcadia and Debenhams. Debenhams even has stated that it will close around 124 of its shops in March after failing to find customers.
Additionally, Central London remains quieter than how it was usually. Yes, there are still some people seen around particularly in the shopping areas in Regent Street on Saturday. A day after that, on Sunday, the number of customers and visitors is only half compared to the same day last year, reported by Springboard.
Reports from Some Sellers
The pandemic indeed causes a loss for so many people. While there are some of them who think that it is a disaster, they are actually not alone. Businessmen, sellers, and retailers, whether small or big tend to experience this bad moment. Some of those businessmen can survive for sure. However, for some others, it is really difficult to wake up.
One of the boutique owners in the city center of London, Rowena Howie stated that the number of customers in her shop is far less how it should be led up to Christmas. She said that her team is not as busy as before in the store. Commonly, it happens on the first weekend of December. However, Howie is still optimistic that her store can still gain profits although they may not be as many as before. The profits come from online transactions. It is not a new thing for her as she has started online features even before the pandemic.
The same positive vibe is also seen in Anna Blackburn. She is the director of the jewel retails, Beaverbrooks. Well, “It is even the worst year”. However, she also said that the condition seems to get better. At least, in High Street, the number of customers has increased up to 10% this weekend. There is a tendency when people reduce their activities outside. But once they are coming out, it looks like they want to spend more money also.
Interestingly, Blackburn also said that there is an increase in the sales of wedding and engagement rings. “It’s been a tough year; people want to treat their loved ones.”
According to the Center of Retail Research, during the pandemic, it is estimated that more than 20,000 shops will close. Meanwhile, the number of people who lose their jobs has also increased up to 235,000. Yes, the cost to run a store is too expensive for many people. Although online stores are good solutions, the income is still decreased even for the customers also.