With mandatory store closures and the work from home order creating a huge shift in the city’s usually busy footfall, retail shops in London had to think harder about how to make their usually successful offering work in the new world order. 

Covid-19 forced retail shops in London to change

Throughout 2020 and early 2021, tourism was almost non-existent across London. This meant that tourists who travel to London simply to shop the wonders of King’s Road and more were ordering online instead. 

Not only did the pandemic force a change in supply chain trends, but it also made a difference to consumer behaviours. This caused retailers to both flourish and struggle throughout the highs and lows of Covid-19.

Before the world, as we know it transformed, most large retailers in London would rely on traditional retail working for 90% of their business and only 10% for online sales – meaning that shop closures would cause retailers to lose 90% of their business without warning overnight. It was time to work in different ways.

The new working model 

The BBC reported that 43% of the country’s largest employers have said they do not plan on forcing a full-time return for all staff, and a mix of working from home and office working a few days a week has become the new normal. 

Without its usually busy footfall of tourists and commuters, London retailers can expect quieter times to continue throughout 2022 due to restrictions and guidelines changing every day. 

Reinvention for retailers 

For retailers, reinvention has become a vice for survival. The pandemic has inspired shops to branch out into different areas, for example, retailer Next has taken full advantage of Debenhams closures and transformed their offering into a free-standing beauty concept in the empty store spaces. 

Creating memorable in-store experiences has become quite the phenomenon in recent years as the pop up shop concept continues to grow. It’s no secret that physical stores will quieten down in years to come, but the stores that remain must offer more than the opportunity to purchase products.

Pop up shops offer a certain level of exclusivity that consumers crave. Shopping online is easy and customers can browse from the comfort of their own home, so they need something extra special to sway them into physical stores. No one wants to miss out on an exclusive event that you know will expire within a certain period, and pop ups are not around forever. They add excitement to the traditional store offering. 

Exclusive sustainability 

Along with the exclusivity of pop up shops, a lot of traditional retail stores are now providing a safer, Covid-19 experience that most would consider exclusive and personal. Numerous shops now require you to book an appointment or be assigned to a specific salesperson to shop in-store, while some might find it frustrating, others will feel special and doted on. 

Sustainability is now a huge factor in retaining the attention of consumers. In August 2020, Sloane Stanley announced that The Sustainable Pop-Up would arrive on Kings Road. The brand promoted a more mindful way to retail, offering sustainable luxury fashion with a conscience. The store was an inspiration for people to pursue a more sustainable way of shopping. The retail experience is even coming back to Kings Road in July 2022!

For the future of retail shops in London, it seems that a good mix of in-store and online experiences is the next best step. A clear omnichannel approach mixed with exclusive opportunities will encourage consumers to revisit the high street, whether they are browsing in-store to buy online or purchasing directly from traditional stores. 

Renting a retail shop in London is an exciting affair. Sloane Stanley offers a diverse mix of independent store spaces across the vibrant Kings Road. Get in touch with us today to find out more about renting a commercial property.