From restricting cash payments in store to dealing with a stockpiling nation, COVID-19 is drastically affecting the UK retail marketplace. Every Retail Director needs to stay updated with constantly changing demands as UK Coronavirus cases increase.

After one of the wettest Februarys on record, retail footfall has now seen a spike, as customers dash to stock up, due to the spread of coronavirus in the country. Retailers are faced with restricting numbers of purchases and appealing for public calm as widespread panic buying continues. UK retailers are also now faced with the strain on existing employees. In a recent blog, we covered how businesses are currently approaching recruitment, by utilising Facetime and Skype for interviews, meetings and appointments, as well as offering the ability to work remotely where possible.

Limiting cash payments

Speaking about the outbreak, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is now recommending that consumers make purchases using contactless technology to limit the virus’ spread, which can be passed through microorganisms on cash. For instance, retailers are announcing limits on cash payments for certain tills. Deemed as a precaution, some tills will become card purchase only.

Online sales boom

Insights platform Contentsquare analysed more than 1,400 websites 1.8bn anonymised user sessions and 50m transactions to discover how shoppers are buying. It stated that, during the last two weeks, online grocery purchases increased by 20%. Aimee Stone Munsell, CMO at Contentsquare, commented, “In the last two weeks alone, we’ve seen a significant boost in online purchases, with consumers buying more groceries and more healthcare products online.” As social distancing is recommended, the current appeal of the high-street is waning in favour of online shopping. The older population, who shy away from online purchasing, are expected to switch, and then may continue to shop online post-outbreak. Planning for an immediate decline in in-store footfall and an increase in online purchasing is recommended.

Ensuring top quality e-commerce

Ensuring your e-commerce offering is effective is now of primary importance to UK retail. It’s likely that experienced e-commerce experts will already be employed, so using a head hunter to source the best talent out there now makes solid business sense. As CEOs and Retail Directors fall under pressure to maintain profit margins, having efficient online sales and marketing could mean the difference between staying afloat or not during these difficult times. At Anthony Gregg, we specialise in retail executive recruitment, from e-commerce and multi-channel to supply chain and logistics.