Possible hospitality closures and the 10 pm curfew for the sector has been put into place as a measure to stem the spread of Coronavirus, and avoid a second lockdown. However, this legislation has been met with much dispute as retailers are now bearing the burden of hospitality consumers. The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers has said that early closures of pubs, bars and restaurants are likely to cause shop workers to be put at greater risk of Covid infections, violence and verbal abuse. As such, shopping experiences now must be as streamlined and dynamic as possible in order to ensure safety and hygiene and technology could be one avenue of achieving this.
With shops in England being able to continue to sell alcohol until later, the curfew has allegedly seen an increase in people leaving venues at the same time, and congregating around supermarkets, convenience stores and off-licences. As a result, many local retailers are finding it difficult to manage the steady influx of customers at one time, which has also resulted in anti-social behaviour. Furthermore, this increase in footfall is also causing increased physical interactions between people in shops; this is of particular concern as it has been found that retail workers are the most likely to contract the virus, with death rates amongst retail workers higher than in the general population.
Will Broome, is the CEO of Ubamarket, a leading authority in the supermarket and grocery sector, with retailers including SPAR, EUROSPAR, Budgens and Londis having adopted Ubamarket’s technology. He has been instrumental in the development of a retail shopping app, which introduces features such as scan-as-you-shop, aisle sat-nav, in-app payment and till-less checkout to help retailers offer a more streamlined and safe environment for both customers and staff.
"Rising second lockdown concerns have highlighted exactly how important local shops and supermarkets are to consumers across the country. An essential presence, our nation's shop keepers are constantly at the front line, providing everyone with their basic necessities. Their presence is absolutely paramount in our efforts to combat the difficulties brought about by the virus, and it is important that retailers are able to confidently rise to the challenge. Increases in footfall will undoubtedly cause more physical interaction between consumers and this may have adverse effects - including the rise in Covid rates as well as anti-social behaviour.
One way of combating some of these issues is through the implementation of retail technology, allowing retailers to go further by solving a number of the problems posed by Coronavirus. Providing tech solutions, such as a consumer app, can put shoppers in control and will unlock a range of features such as remote stock-checking, till-less checkout and aisle sat-nav, all of which will greatly enhance the shopping experience and develop a safer, more convenient environment.
I sincerely hope that the UK's shoppers take into account the concerns shown from Britain's retailers, but I am also hopeful that shops across the country learn from the challenges presented by the first lockdown and consider adopting technology to safeguard and strengthen their consumer offering moving forward.”