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Half of consumers won’t miss any UK retail brands that close down during COVID, apart from Debenhams

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Almost half (43%) of UK shoppers will not miss any of the retail brands that have gone into administration since the pandemic began – a figure that rises to 58% for those aged over 55… apart from Debenhams, which will be missed by a third.

However, millennials, 27% of whom are buying online, are more likely to mourn the closure of high street shops.

The tracker study of more than 2,000 UK adults, commissioned by global e-commerce agency Melody, found that half of men (48%) and 39% of women are unphased by the retailers at risk of pulling down their shutters for good. In addition, almost three in ten higher income shoppers (28%) who earn over £75,000 a year wouldn’t miss any of the retailers in administration, but this figure leaps to six in ten (59%) of those earning below £15,000.

Chris Cooper, planning director at Melody, comments: “Mandatory face coverings and concerns over social distancing had already left irreparable dents on the high street experience, and a second lockdown means that high streets will once again become ghost towns.  Even when restrictions are lifted, consumer confidence is going to remain low. Moreover, as the figures suggest, it is those on the lowest incomes that will be most impacted.”

The study shows that customer loyalty to traditional retail brands is in decline – three in ten (33%) Brits are now shopping less on the high street – and the threat to the incumbents was already compounded by the fact that one in five did not think retailers were doing enough to allay concerns over in-store health and safety. 

Initiatives such as the #saveshops is hoping to reverse this trend and make high street retailers part of the online shopping funnel, using store agents to advise online and to encourage assisted online shopping and click and collect.

Cooper concludes: “The high street has been struggling to appeal to shoppers in an increasingly digital-first retail landscape. Shoppers of all generations have adapted to e-commerce under lockdown and 81% suggest they will maintain these habits. 

“If retailers fail to deliver an attractive online experience – particularly ahead of the Christmas scramble – they’ll fail to cut through, particularly as we could see the lockdown extended further.”

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