Posted: 04/11/2020

City-centre retailers in for “challenging” winter, warns expert

City-centre retailers in for "challenging" winter, warns expert

Fine food retailers based in town and city centres are in for a “challenging” winter, a key figure has warned. 

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retail Association, said government advice for many people to work from home until the spring meant business models had to change.

Ministers announced in September that everyone who can work remotely should do so in a package of virus-fighting measures expected to last six months.

Goodacre said: “The measures being implemented around the country are a threat to an already fragile consumer confidence. Footfall is already on average 30 per cent below normal levels, and will not increase for the foreseeable future.

“Ultimately this will result in a challenging environment for independent food retailers, especially if they are located in the larger towns and cities. Those food retailers located near travel hubs have already seen a substantial decline in sales and winter does not look any more encouraging.”

The response to the pandemic was rapidly changing the way small retailers operated, Goodacre said.

“A strong digital footprint is now a necessity and not a choice. With social restrictions in place and Christmas approaching, food retailers will need to focus on offering products to feed groups of six – quality and diversity replacing quantity. 

“Deliveries or click and collect will also need to be available. In simple terms, retailers have to ask themselves: If customers cannot come to me, how do I take the shop to the customers?”

Read the latest edition of Fine Food Digest here.

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