As England now enters its second period of national lockdown, we reflect on the impact of the Government’s three-tiered Covid-19 restrictions on the retail sector last month.
During the week commencing 12 October 2020, when the restrictions were first announced and implemented, retail footfall across the UK fell immediately.
In terms of year-on-year performance, overall footfall across high streets, shopping centres and retail parks fell down to 32%, from 30.9% the week before.
Year-on-year, high street footfall individually fell by 40% during the week commencing 12 October 2020. Shopping centres were down by 34.6%, while out of town retail parks performed the strongest with footfall down by just 13.2%.
With much of the North East and North West of the country under stricter restrictions than the rest of the UK, Springboard said “it is not surprising” that the North and Yorkshire saw the biggest drop of any region in the UK.
In London, footfall dropped just 2.3% during the week commencing 12 October 2020, less than many other regional cities across the UK.
Regional cities, excluding the capital, saw footfall collectively fall 5.7% during the week commencing 12 October 2020 and as of 19 October 2020, footfall was down by 47.9% on the previous year.
“The additional Covid tiered restrictions had an immediate impact on footfall in retail destinations last week with an across the board week on week decline; the fourth consecutive drop and also greater than that in previous weeks,” Springboard insights director Diane Wehrle said.
Wehrle also stated: “The 10pm closure of hospitality is having a clear impact on high street activity during the evening, with far greater declines in footfall post-6pm than over the daytime trading period of 9am to 6pm.”
Hikvision’s new Mask Detection Solution detects if an individual entering a retail store is wearing a mask or not, with advanced solutions available to also detect and display skin-surface temperature. 
The technology provides real time alerts and voice prompts from a camera when an individual is not wearing a mask.
In the midst of rising Covid-19 cases across the country, retailers could and should be seeking new technologies to help them tackle non-compliance with mask rules in stores, including improper wear.
Currently the new system is being tested at Whiteley’s Garden Centre in Yorkshire, where the technology has reportedly driven a 50% reduction in non-compliance.
James Ritchey, from CCTV.co.uk, said: “The technology is just fantastic; the CCTV system automatically allows or denies access to the shop and means staff don’t have to be put at risk from difficult customers complaining, or potentially worse.”
Ritchey also said: “The other side of using an automated system is it gives customers worried about the virus confidence as they enter a tightly controlled secure Covid-19 store.”
This may be the piece of technology needed to increase consumer confidence in the retail sector and increase sales in the lead-up to Christmas.
Consumers are increasingly looking beyond brand labels; instead, they are making informed, conscious decisions about the items they are buying as well as the values and ethos of the retailers (and indeed, their supply chains). The Covid-19 pandemic appears to have increased awareness about the need to protect people and the planet, further encouraging consumers to make sustainable and ethical purchases.
Guided by shifting consumer behaviours, a number of retailers have recently launched ambitious sustainable projects. H&M has set an objective of using 100% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030, together with a bold commitment of being climate positive by 2040. Luxury skiwear brand Moncler is aiming to be completely carbon neutral in its own global operations by 2021 and to use 100% renewable energy by 2023.
ASOS has launched its first circular fashion collection, which focuses on creating zero-waste designs by using all materials as efficiently as possible and creating mono-material clothing to make items instantly recyclable in future and improve durability.
Supermarket retailer Asda, perhaps the most innovative of them all, has opened a new sustainability concept store in Leeds, which features refill stations for numerous popular household products (such as pasta) and plastic-free, loose produce. It will be interesting to see how competitors follow this move, as others have set ambitious goals to become plastic free over the next few years.
Whilst protecting the planet is certainly high on the agenda for many consumers, a recent survey by Vogue Business revealed that UK consumers are more likely to be concerned with workplace conditions and supply chain issues.
Despite this, Labour Behind the Label is the only UK campaign group focused entirely on improving the lives of workers within the fashion industry representing the Clean Clothes Campaign. However, the matter is likely to be raised over the next couple of months as following an investigation into ‘Fixing Fashion’ in 2018, the Environmental Audit Committee is once again reviewing what can be done to improve continued poor working conditions in UK factories. The chair of the committee stated that “accusations of poor labour market exploitation in the UK remain, with poor working conditions and illegally low wages”. The committee has invited written evidence on a number of matters dealing with both sustainability and working conditions, including how employment law and payments of minimum wage can be more effectively enforced and measures the fashion industry can put in place to ensure that materials or products made in poor conditions are removed from supply chains.
With so much information readily available at consumers’ fingertips, prudent retailers will be interrogating their business plans and investigating their supply chains to see where they can implement progressive changes to align their values with those of their target market and the Environmental Audit Committee. As the old proverb goes, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’.
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 It does this through a high sensitivity thermal module with 160 x 120 resolution and leading thermal image processing technology.