Better than before

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Better than before

It seems difficult in these times to discuss anything but COVID-19. With the majority of us locked up in our homes and a constant flood of news reporting on the effects of the pandemic, it seems the topic of coronavirus has engrained each and every part of our lives. It isn’t all bad, of course, but there is a strong sense of living in the disruption of normality; a paradigm shift seldom seen. One thing is certain: there will be a before and an after COVID-19.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen how our industry is rapidly adapting to ongoing events and changing circumstances. Earlier this week, The New Statesman rounded up a few ways in which the pandemic is making change happen quicker than ever before, including a decreasing dependence on global supply chains and a boost for the already growing e-commerce market. The latter, in turn, may well lead to an upheave in retail innovation once the pandemic passes, as physical retail will once again have to prove its relevance – while consumers will be craving real, human experiences after weeks, or potentially even months, of self-isolating, thus further accelerating the experiential retail movement.

One retail segment that has quickly adapted to the effects of widespread lockdown across the globe is the food and beverage sector. Restaurants have long had an online presence via food delivery apps such as Deliveroo and Ubereats, but in response to the abrupt lack of consumer demand amidst the deadly pandemic, bars are also turning to the online world and launching cocktail delivery services. Arguably, many consumers will get used to the convenience of these on-demand services, and the demand will likely outlive the coronavirus outbreak. This is true for food as well: a microtrend that has been gaining popularity over recent years is that of dark kitchens – restaurant kitchens that sell meals purely via food delivery services – and one Forbes contributor argues that some of the restaurants that have now had to shut up shop, may choose to remain operating as dark kitchens after the coronavirus breakout, as it is an effective way for businesses to lower operating costs in a competitive landscape.

Meanwhile, the events sector is also evolving. Shanghai Fashion Week, which ended on Monday evening, became the first-ever completely digital fashion week, setting the standard for the rest of the industry. And with over 6 million viewers watching the show on the first day, there was clearly a demand to be met. Reed MIDEM is hoping to do the same thing for the collective real estate sector, when it brings MIPIM 2020 online with MIPIM Connect.

So yes, the world, and the retail industry with it, is evolving into an ‘after’ COVID-19. But we’re feeling pretty hopeful that it will be even better than the ‘before’.

Astrid Svensson, Senior Account Executive , Innesco

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