Majority of retailers 'have made no preparations' for COVID second wave

More than half (54 per cent) of retailers in the UK have made no preparations for a second wave of COVID-19.

A survey of 500 retailers by digital operations provider Brightpearl found that just 56 per cent of retailers said they believed their businesses could survive the impact of a second wave of the pandemic this autumn or winter, with resources already stretched by the lockdown period.

The research revealed that on a sector-by sector basis, health and beauty was the least prepared for a rise in Coronavirus cases, with three quarters of companies saying they have made no preparation.

Other sectors failing to adapt to the prospect include fashion brands, with 62 per cent saying they had made no changes to their business model. More than half (57 per cent) of entertainment brands also said they had made no preparations.

A fifth of retailers (22 per cent) said they had drawn up plans to close stores next year due to the crisis. Sport and leisure brands were planning the most closures, with half saying they will likely need to close stores, followed by electrical firms (36 per cent), fashion brands (30 per cent), and home and DIY stores (25 per cent).

In addition, fewer than half of retailers (42 per cent) were planning to invest in further digital solutions to prepare their business for future spikes.

Brightpearl chief executive Derek O’Carroll said: “COVID-19 is the retail equivalent of a meteor impact: an existential event that changes the composition of the industry and, sadly, as we’ve witnessed, the eradication of many businesses.

“We’ve seen huge digital transformation in the retail industry in a matter of months as companies look to adapt to the disruption, but the majority simply haven’t had the time to consider and plan for what the future looks like post-pandemic," he continued. "That’s a dangerous position to be in, especially with the looming threat of a second wave of the virus.”

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