The UK government has confirmed a gradual re-opening of retail stores, beginning with Outdoor Markets and Showrooms able to start trading again from 1st June – so long as they keep customers “safe”.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52801727

All non-essential retail shops can also reopen in England from 15th June, Prime Minister Johnson says (but not hairdressers). Sadly,as the Prime Minister appears to only speak for England right now, I’m not sure where that leaves everyone else. At least there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for retailers in England. We visited some stores earlier today and found no mention of re-opening dates

But what is this ‘New Normal’ likely to look like with social distancing of 2m still in place – it won’t be the greatest shopping experience and could be fraught with challenges for both retailers and customers alike.

Prospero also remains unconvinced that people will want to go back at the speed many retailers may be expecting. In our recent piece on the future of retailing on and offline – ‘the New Normal’– we introduced the view that over 50% of many high street retailers’ businesses will likely be Digital Commerce for the foreseeable future.  The so-called V-shaped recovery is likely to be lop-sided.

Shopping in physical stores is going to be both challenging and frustrating. Physical distancing will likely result in less help for customers reduced stock and, probably higher prices to make it pay. Shopping Malls like Westfield may have an advantage over high streets as it is easier for them to track people and provide social distancing.

So, whilst the news that shops will be open soon is good news, we’re far from convinced that the social experience of physical shopping will be what customers hope for when they do try it out.

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