Anne Marie Waters
Tuesday May 26th 2020
Former BBC ‘Dragon’ Theo Paphitis has declared that “retail will never ever be the same again” when economic life begins to stagger back to normality. The coronavirus lockdown has closed all shops except those selling food and medicine, and it has been this way for more than a month. The effect on our economy is immeasurable, and the effect, it seems, will last far longer than lockdown itself.
Paphitis echoed the sentiments of Marks & Spencer leader Steve Rowe, who agreed that some shopping habits “have changed forever”. The winner in all of this will be internet-based business, as countless people have been forced to discover online shopping, and many will never go back.
As it must, our economy will change as people’s habits do, and so we can expect delivery companies to be created, and those already working to get much bigger. Online shopping will explode and retail shops will transform in to warehouses. Jobs will be very different too.
The high street had already diminished thanks to the internet, but this, according to Paphitis, has accelerated the process.
The acceleration in the demise of retail will inevitably have an impact on other services people use while shopping, such as cafes and restaurants. Great change, and great economic struggle, is ahead, possibly for millions of Britons.
Further change will be to the office environment. Since the lockdown began, almost half of the UK’s workforce have been working from home. Many are predicted to stay that way.
This too will have a wider ripple effect than perhaps first estimated. Businesses of course will have far smaller overheads in terms of real estate and utilities. But it will also lead to a disjointed workforce; colleagues who don’t know each other well may make teamwork more difficult, and there is also a social aspect to consider. For some, work is a place of friendships and even deeper relationships. This will mean people will find new ways of meeting, probably causing yet another boost to the online world.
There’s no doubt about it, the internet is significantly altering our reality, and will continue to do so. The future, including the future of business, is very much moving in to virtual reality, and thanks to coronavirus, it is now moving faster.
According to author Bruce Daisley, writer of ‘The Joy of Work’, anyone who “thinks things are going to go back to the way things were is bananas”. He may well be right.
Economic developments this week include:
- All non-essential retailers in England may reopen on June 15th
- The New York Stock Exchange reopens today after a 2 month closure
- The UK Government has hinted that it is willing to save essential companies from going under, as a “last resort”
- The German Government has agreed a 9 billion euro bailout for airline Lufthansa
Anne Marie Waters