Retail Reflections

Remember, we’re all in this together, but just don’t get too close

Remember, we’re all in this together, but just don’t get too close

On this, Blue Monday, I am reflecting on the fact that 2020 has thankfully and finally, drawn to a socially distanced close, and we can finally consign it to room 101, and inevitably, our thoughts turn to the New Year and what that might hold in store for us all. And at a time when traditionally, New Year resolutions are made, only to be solemnly broken before January is out, never before was the dawning of a new year more eagerly awaited. Because it couldn’t be worse than the one we’ve just endured. Could it? Here are some thoughts on what we might expect.

The vaccine offers hope that we can return to normality sometime soon, but to suggest, as many have, that this will be by the Spring is fatuous at best and disingenuous at worst. Which also conveniently avoids the reality that reportedly, up to 10% of the population will refuse to have the vaccine. That’s six million people living amongst us who could continue to spread the virus.

All sectors of business have been hit, none more so than retail and hospitality, who steadfastly continue to assert that they’ve done all they can to ensure their premises are as safe as they can possibly be. A trip to the local supermarket will soon dissuade you of this notion. They have done an awful lot, of that there is no doubt, but there is so much more that could be done.

And rather than continually impose various flavours of confinement, government should be creating a new Covid Safe Standard and providing grants to businesses to allow them to invest in the technology required to meet that new standard. Those that do should be allowed to remain open. Because the alternative is that when we do eventually emerge, blinking into the sunlight, there’ll be precious little business left for us to return to.

What is certain however is that 2021 will provide yet more uncertainty, and normality, such that it ever was, will remain tantalisingly out of reach. Social distancing, face coverings and working from home look set to remain de rigueur for a considerable time to come. 

Psychologists tell us that it takes sixty six days for new behaviours and attitudes to become embedded, well, we hit that landmark in early June, since when six months have passed. And this is where the Covid-19 pandemic for once has some good news for us. Because I don’t know about you, but much as I love my fellow man, I’d rather not be squeezed into their collective armpit thank you very much. No, personal space is the new in crowd and long may it remain that way.

Humans by nature are very adaptable, throw any number of crises at us, whether it be war, famine, drought – natural disasters of all kinds, and we will find a way to overcome adversity; and a global pandemic is no different. And in this way, 2021 promises to be a turning point, where we will all reassess our personal risk and, responsibly, learn to live with the virus and each other once more. But just don’t get too close.

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