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Retailers Pivot Towards E-Commerce to Survive Pandemic Spending Slump

04 June 2020 - 13:36 by Mike Price

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60 per cent of retailers in Britain are making major changes to the way they operate in response to the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis, according to a report from Opinium.

The majority are embracing safe shopping online more thoroughly in order to ensure that they can continue to serve customers with cost-effective products even if physical stores cannot be opened or have limits imposed on them to prevent the spread of the virus.

45 per cent said that they were also in the process of working out whether it made sense for them to outsource a proportion of their IT responsibilities to third-party providers in order to give them more agility when responding to similar dilemmas that may emerge in the future.

Flexibility is certainly a valuable asset, and it makes sense for retailers of all sizes to be able to accommodate spikes in demand without having to pay for and maintain comprehensive IT systems capable of handling this in-house during slower periods of trading.

As many as 38 per cent of retailers could be pushed to the brink of financial collapse in the next four months, with the government’s furlough scheme set to end in October under current plans. This means that tens of thousands of jobs are potentially at risk unless the situation changes in a significant way.

Restrictions on high street retail have been eased this month, although consumer confidence is still limited, and so even as shops begin to open their doors to customers, the chances are that spending will be muted.

It is also the case that the coronavirus pandemic has changed consumer spending habits, making it necessary for more retailers to offer support for online shopping due to the trends that have been forged by this crisis.