The Pandemic’s Impact on the US and UK Retail Sector

  • E-commerce/online shopping: This trend is likely to gain ground with most consumers having realised the convenience and fewer health concerns associated with it. The World Economic Forum expects department store sales to decline by around 60% and e-commerce sales to grow by 20% this year. Retail giants such as Target, Kohl’s and Walmart have focused on their omni-channel fulfilment strategies to quickly adapt to this shift while other companies are focusing on increasing or planning their e-commerce presence/strategy.
  • Inventory management: Almost every retailer in the world faced challenges such as a lack of essential supplies or stockpiles of non-essential goods amid the pandemic. Many have now digitised inventory management and are using stores that were previously closed to stock inventory or as fulfilment centres for delivery, to ensure they maintain the function of the supply chain.
  • Touchless experience: The buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) trend is emerging along with touchless payments, curbside pickup and scheduling appointments for pickup. Also gaining popularity is the use of augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR), for example, in product visualisation, virtual try-on and virtual malls, helping customers engage with a product before buying it.
  • BOPIS and curbside pickup: BOPIS is an emerging trend in the retail sector, preferred by consumers in Europe and the US. This provides flexibility in terms of avoiding long delivery time, extra shipping costs and the hassle of shipping back returns. Curbside pickup enables consumers to either pick up items from a location convenient to them or have a sales representative place items directly in a vehicle, making it a contactless experience.
  • Contactless payment: Consumers could use QR codes or near-field communication (NFC) technology to pay via mobile phone. These methods are safer, faster, more efficient and seamless.
  • In-store digitisation: If the right digital tools are used, store staff could spend more time serving customers and enhance the customer experience. This could include answering customer queries relating to prices and stock. A new trend of voice-commerce capabilities is also emerging, where customers can search for and buy products via voice command. Innovations such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant help consumers make shopping lists, purchase products and check the status of an order



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Acuity Knowledge Partners

Acuity Knowledge Partners


We write about financial industry trends, the impact of regulatory changes and opinions on industry inflection points.