According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), overall store vacancy rates have increased from 12.4% in the second quarter of the year to 13.2% in the third- which is the highest level it has been since 2013. Furthermore, UKHospitality and CGA have reported that sales in the hospitality industry have also taken a hit, declining by almost half in the three months leading up to September 30.
Now, with the festive season nearly upon us, it is crucial that the retail and hospitality sector is able to evolve in order to encourage spending by building up consumer confidence. One way the industries can transition to the new age of post-COVID retail and hospitality is by turning to technology to combat these challenges. Tech pioneers Ubamarket represent one company who have already developed similar technology in the supermarket and grocery sector. Retailers including SPAR, EUROSPAR, Budgens and Londis have adopted Ubamarket’s mobile technology to support in-app payment, aisle sat-nav, automatic loyalty and remote stock checking capabilities for their customers.
Will Broome, CEO and founder of the fintech app for retailers and the hospitality sector, Ubamarket, discusses how high-street shops can continue to increase sales despite lockdowns. "These figures are a great indication of how deeply consumer confidence has been impacted due to the localised lockdowns brought about by the surge in COVID cases. With over 20 million people in the UK now wanting to have close to no human interaction when shopping, retailers and hospitality businesses would do well to think of alternatives to drive sales and footfall while maintaining the safety and confidence of their clientele.
In order to prevent the economic downturns brought about by localised lockdowns, retailers need to adapt quickly and continue to help keep their customers and staff safe. For example, by implementing technology that incorporates scanning and in-app payments, shop assistants no longer have to handle goods and be in close contact with hundreds of people a day, minimising the spread of the virus. Furthermore, applications can send push notifications and personalised offers to customers, helping drive footfall if it drops due to local lockdowns. Measures like this will need implementing quickly to help retailers protect themselves from lockdowns and a potential drop in sales."