The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive change to different spheres all over the world. On both professional and personal levels, many people have had to adjust all sorts of patterns. Behaviours that were once not even noticed now have to be called into question. This is going to have a knock-on effect on society in several areas for quite a few years.
One such area that is thought will be affected will be in retail and business. Consumer buying habits have already shifted, and it may be some time before we see them return to how they were in a pre-COVID world.
Keeping It Basic
One of the primary changes that has arisen as a result of this global situation has been the stripping back of frivolous purchases. Many governments around the world have put guidelines or restrictions in place that control the number of people who are allowed into supermarkets at certain times.
Whereas once people would go to the shops on a whim to buy things, this has changed. Meal prepping and other forms of dietary planning have taken off massively. With many people only able to go to the shops once a week, they need to think carefully about what they are eating.
With that has come a desire to stick to the basics. Headlines were made everywhere as people rushed to buy essentials like pasta and toilet paper at the start of this situation. This led to a shortage across many areas, and it proved one very important point. When faced with the unknown like this, we all fall back on the basics. People bought what they considered to be essential goods. This drive to keep to more basic goods will certainly continue into the future for some time.
Many people have seen some of their favourite local shops struggle in some way with business in this situation. Many local economies rely on certain demographics or situations to make their money for the year. The pandemic has unfortunately closed them off, and they have not been able to rely on some funding sources that big-name brands are pulling on.
Luckily, there has also been an influx of locals standing up to help out. A key example here can be seen in the hospitality industry. Obviously, no-one has been able to travel and go on holiday while COVID-19 has been spreading. Hotels that were booked up for the summer now lie empty. Though this has been difficult in its own right, a big waste of money can be found in the hotel’s kitchens.
Food that was bought in for the season was slowly going to waste with no guests to consume it. Some hotels decided that they would instead sell to the community; communities that were only too happy to buy. There have been chances to buy packages of food – allowing locals to stock up on meat, flour, and other perishables that would have otherwise gone to waste – and some hotels have even decided to do a takeout service for locals to grab to use up their stocks.
These small gestures are helping many local businesses to stay afloat. Small, local businesses are often the backbone of an area’s economy, so we can hopefully expect to see many more people making the active choice to shop locally when things return to a more normal state.
Thanks to the power of the internet, many of us have managed to stay in contact with our loved ones throughout this period with greater ease than we would have even ten years ago. However, our interactions with the internet have also given rise to more and more eCommerce options.
Many businesses that were not online before have now made the transition to the digital marketplace so they can still offer their business to their customers. On top of this, there have been massive efforts made by online-only companies to ensure that their staff are kept as safe as possible.
One of the first areas that saw a significant boost from online sales was actually office furniture. Many people made the transition to working from home and then realised that they had no safe place to do so. They were not productive sitting on their bed or sofa, and somewhere public like the kitchen table had too many distractions. Thanks to online retailers, they were able to get desks and chairs to help set up the right place for them to work from home.
There has also been a rise in the entertainment sector. With cinema having ground to a halt, online streaming platforms have exploded in popularity. Many have signed up for services like Disney Plus. There has also been a massive boost to online experiences through conferencing platforms like Zoom. Whether people are getting together to solve murder mysteries, or they are joining a pub quiz for the evening, it is clear that COVID-19 has not affected this digital world.
Though many people are going to want to meet up with loved ones once everything is back to normal, we shall also hopefully see more people interacting with others and staying close online.
The New Normal?
The phrase “the new normal” has been batted around a lot in the last few months. It is certainly true that COVID-19 will have a great effect on society for some time to come, even after the virus has gone and the pandemic is officially declared to be over. We can expect people to be more conscientious shoppers in the future, with an emphasis on buying local and essential.
There was already a massive group of people who were choosing to shop online for many items, but it is clear that this category will only grow. COVID-19 has helped to show how varied and versatile online shopping can be, and this is one sector that is only going to keep on improving. Businesses should be prepared for any changes that may arise in consumer behaviour in the future, though it is likely to be some time before things were as they were before.