Updated: Sep 17, 2020
CASSANDRA ACQUAH | LEGAL JARGON WRITER
An increasing number of independent shops are not willing to back the government with its push to get workers back in the office as they have been enjoying an increase in sales thanks to the number of people working from home and not needing to commute to work anymore.
These stores have found that throughout lockdown, they have been benefiting from business that would usually go to stores located in the city centre. This point was emphasised by Andrew Goodacre, the chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association who stated that many independent stores in suburban areas had reported a growth in sales during the lockdown period.
Some chain stores have been adapting their business models in an attempt to bring more customers to their stores. An example of this is Pret a Manger, who after making huge cuts to their workforce due to the sharp decrease in sales, have recently introduced a £20-a-month subscription scheme where customers can claim up to five drinks a day, as long as they are purchased by the same person and there are at least 30 minutes between each purchase. This is in an effort to increase footfall in their stores and entice customers into their stores.
Whilst many have appreciated the chain’s efforts of ‘adapting to the future’, others have claimed it is still not worth commuting for and would rather buy their coffee and other drinks from an independent store, as they have increasingly been doing.
As more organisations move towards embracing permanent remote-working, for at least some days of the week, it is likely that businesses will be thinking of new methods to increase the number of customers and ultimately, sales in their stores like Pret has done with their subscription.
Some retailers in the city centre have been facing lower levels of sales as a result of the lockdown and the recent moves towards permanent remote-working by many companies. This has also led to employees being made redundant.
In an effort to increase sales and footfalls in their stores, companies will likely be introducing deals and incentives in a similar way to Pret and their subscription scheme.
Due to the decline in sales, employees are being made redundant as a result of the companies not making enough profit to pay them. Consideration should be taken regarding the clauses in their contracts to ensure they are given a fair exit.
Some City law firms like Slater and Gordon made the decision earlier this year to embrace remote-working for those working in their London office, even post COVID-19. As more companies embrace this new working culture, retailers located in the city centre will need to take these permanent moves into consideration.
Cassandra is an aspiring solicitor with interests in retail and media, as well as the steps being taken to increase diversity at all levels within the legal sector.
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