Retailers in the UK have faced a perfect storm of challenges for the past 18 months. From Covid-induced closures, drops in sales volumes, talent shortages, to supply chain issues, they have gone through it all.
Approaching the end of an intense year, we took time to reflect on these challenges, find out how retailers are feeling about the new year and what their priorities for 2022 are.
The High-Street is still Alive
With nowhere to go for the majority of the time during the pandemic, people shopped online like never before, bombarded with emails from brands that felt like you had to get that very specific item to make your home-bound life more interesting.
Although the road to recovery for retail is still full of twists and turns, this year people have gone back to in-store shopping quicker than expected, with 65% of consumers, who took part in our national survey, having shopped in-store, as well as online, suggesting that people are seeking normal routines with physical shops playing a significant role.
Welcoming customers back in-store worry-free has been one of retailers’ top priorities, so keeping the shopfloor safe has been a demanding task. On a positive note, three quarters of customers (75%) feel that retailers have made customer safety a priority this year, meaning retailers can maintain what they’ve already been doing and prioritise other key areas without impacting customers’ perception of in-store retail and its safety.
So, what does really drive people back into stores?
Although over the past few years we have seen technology redefining the way we shop, the main priority for customers, when it comes to retail, is convenience.
With a new reality and habits to adapt to, consumers are preferring to shop in store in order to be able to see and try things before purchasing (51%), avoid waiting time for delivery (40%), and proximity to home or work (35%).
So, while many retail leaders may be re-imagining the in-store space to create a fresh retail experience, they can’t forget the functional basics consumers want and must prioritise convenience and value.
What are retailers’ priorities for 2022?
Throughout 2021, high-street retailers have experienced the so-called “Great Resignation”, the post-pandemic exodus of people from their lockdown jobs into new roles, resulting in talent shortages.
Furlough and redundancies have been major contributing factors to the talent shortages. For retail however, companies say the top factors are people making career changes out of retail (38%), lack of correctly skilled people in the sector (37%), and people experiencing burnout or poor mental health as a result of the pandemic (37%).
With a decreased pool of candidates willing to work in this industry, retail leaders are making hiring and retention their focus for 2022.
Specifically, their priority will be making the sector more appealing by improving wages, empowering store management, as well as training and development, all of which aims to improve the longevity of employees within a company.
Finding the top talent in the new year might be easier said than done for retailers. When asked about what will be the hardest part, retailers said finding candidates that will stay in their role long-term (39%), hiring the best candidates before competitors do (37%) and finding the top candidates among large volumes of applications (36%).
The many trends and challenges retailers are predicted to deal with in 2022 beg for solid workforce management solutions to make day-to-day operations less taxing.
Fourth offers tried and tested software to facilitate all of your HR activities, from an on-brand Applicant Tracking System to immediately engage prospective applicants, to a mobile app that makes communication with your team smooth and seamless.
Find out more here and get in touch with us for further details.
Download our Retail Survey Whitepaper to discover all the trends and challenges retailers will face in 2022. Get it here.