John Ryan shares his view on the retail landscape for 2021.
To say that the run-up to the Season of Goodwill was a little tricky would be something of an understatement. Shops opened, they closed. They reopened and then some closed again, depending on where you happened to be.
Yet cards kept arriving through the letterbox and they must have been coming from somewhere. To judge from the action in the card shops that were up and running (again, dependent on where you happened to be at the time), Christmas was being marked by many, even if it was somewhat lower-key than might normally be the case.
So, hereâ€™s the upside. There is still demand and this year your correspondent has received cards from many who havenâ€™t sent anything for more than a decade. Perhaps one of the effects of the health crisis has been to make people reassess their priorities and realise that sending an e-card, at best, really doesnâ€™t cut it.
The question therefore, as we edge further into this new and, please God, better year, is whether one of the effects of the coronavirus will be to make us shop more, in the same manner as pundits have been predicting that we will eat out and go to pubs more frequently than previously. It seems probable that we will and perhaps the even better news, if you happen to be an indie, is that more shoppers are shopping more locally than before.
Weâ€™ve all got used to pootling down to the shops in a manner that we might not have dreamt of pre-Covid, and indie card shops remain part of the local high street panorama. When we are back to where we started, it may well prove to be the case that there will be a mini-boom for physical retail.
Not everything is better online and perhaps this needs to be borne in mind in the year ahead especially as the all-important Spring buying occasions edge closer.