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How COVID is Changing the Landscape of British Business

November 2020Becky

It’s no secret that to survive in business, you have to be flexible, responsive, and able to identify new opportunities – even in the face of adversity – and the coronavirus pandemic has certainly challenged British businesses to demonstrate all of these attributes (and then some), throughout 2020.

From enforced lockdowns, social distancing measures and ever-changing guidelines to read through, understand and enforce, it’s hard to think of a time when British business owners had so many demands put upon them, with so little resource to do it, which means now more than ever, it’s time to work smarter, not harder.

COVID has forced a lot of businesses – FIG included – to step back and reassess their business model to ascertain where much of their business will be coming from for the foreseeable future. And those who have been able to adjust their service offering quickly and efficiently are proving to be the ones most likely to weather the storm and come out through the other side.

It’s the little things…

A recent study¹ indicated that because independent high street stores were more agile than chain stores in establishing new offerings and business practices, such as new product lines and home deliveries, they were able to overcome the hurdles that lockdown created more effectively.

And whilst independents suffered a net decline of 1,833 stores in the first half of 2020, it was less than a third of the 6,001 chain stores lost. With a large number of city workers now at home, coupled with the fact that big cities tend to be less densely populated, the footfall high street chains enjoyed has changed dramatically so expect to see radically new high streets emerging in the future.

The same goes for the food industry too. Many local restaurants – not just here in Glossop, but nationwide – transitioned to offer takeaway food to keep trading. By utilising social media, and adapting quickly to localised needs, they were able to advertise their new services within their local area very quickly (and for not much budget) and much more responsively than the bigger chains who presumably had a lot more red tape to get through before they could offer the same.

Pivotal role…

Being able to identify new markets during the pandemic has proved to be a lifeline for some businesses and pivoting from their usual output and adapting to provide products or services outside the norm has enabled some companies to maintain revenue and staffing levels. When the government appealed for more ventilators and personal protective equipment to help combat the virus, a number of British manufacturers² (who under the lockdown measures, had downed tools after being classed as non-essential workers), rallied and got back to work, and whilst it may not have been what they were used to, their ability to adapt is what helped keep them afloat – and could open up new markets for them in the future too.

Advanced technology…

Throughout every storm, there inevitably comes a break in the clouds, and some sectors have experienced exponential growth because of COVID. Tech outfits such as Zoom and Houseparty saw a huge rise in use³ (although Skype seemed to completely miss the boat, suggesting it’s definitely the teams behind these companies responding to consumer need rather than the consumer stumbling across these services by luck4). The enforced closure of many shops has seen a huge spike in online shopping, so having a strong online presence with a professional, easy to use and reliable e-commerce system in place is now a must-have for any retail business. (And remember, should you need help with that, FIG’s in house team of designers, project managers, copywriters and web developers are perfectly placed to help set one up for you).

And just recently it was reported that due to the closure of cinemas and the increase in streaming services, film and TV production in the UK has rocketed5 with a host of new shows in the pipeline – so at least there’ll be something new to watch during the next lockdown!

If you’re looking to break into new markets, talk to FIG for marketing advice. Email [email protected] or call 01457 857111 today.

¹ Covid: Small shops better at surviving virus than big ones – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-54795486

² Every UK manufacturer helping to produce PPE and equipment for NHS workers – https://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/every-uk-manufacturers-helping-to-produce-ppe-and-equipment-for-nhs-workers/

³ Prospering in the pandemic: the top 100 companies – https://www.ft.com/content/844ed28c-8074-4856-bde0-20f3bf4cd8f0

4 Microsoft’s Skype Struggles Have Created a Zoom Moment – https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/31/21200844/microsoft-skype-zoom-houseparty-coronavirus-pandemic-usage-growth-competition

5 Covid pandemic fuelling growth of film and TV studios in UK – https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/nov/07/covid-pandemic-fuelling-growth-of-film-and-tv-studios-in-uk?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

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