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EDITORIAL Retailers are going to be forced to adapt to survive in 2022

As 2021 ends

Growth 2000 retailer Moonpig, a card and gifting online pureplay, neatly demonstrates the uncertainty that many SME retailers face as we look ahead to 2022. On the one hand, it has seen its sales more than double during the pandemic, however, as stores have reopened and shopper habits shift once again, these gains are starting to be eroded.

Moonpig seems untroubled: it has made a massive land-grab in the gifting marketing, taking a 48% share of the sector, and has seen mobile almost over-take online. It also plans to roll out more gifting options, as well as opening store-in-store pop ups to help deal with the partial return to physical retail.

While Omicron – a ‘baddie’ name if there was one – and Plan B cast some doubt over where retail goes next, Moonpig has most bases covered.

And this is symptomatic of many other SME retailers who, by and large, are feeling reasonably confident of their prospects in 2022. Fintech business lender MarketFinance asked 2,000 SME owners across the UK about their outlook for 2022 and beyond and found that 48% were confident that business was stabilising, 30% were looking to invest in M&A, 34% were looking at overseas expansion and 81% were investing in sustainability.

Consumers too are embracing the hybrid store and online model, with many looking to shop in stores for specific things such as cosmetics having made poor decisions when shopping for them online in the lockdown.

On the other side of the coin, 53% of shoppers increasingly think that stores are less important and that Amazon-inspired online shopping is going to be the way to go.

While changing consumer habits are driving these vagaries around how retail 2022 will look, there are more pressing factors coming to bear. Covid, supply chain issues and staffing shortages are also conspiring to make retailers fret.

A separate study finds that 44% of SME retailers are so worried that they believe that they will not survive 2022 as things stand. This is more troubling. Retailers are very adaptable and usually creatively and rapidly evolve to meet most challenges, but these more system problems are perhaps ones that many aren’t equipped to adapt to.

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