The New Normal

Change has been thrust upon us with no clear date for a return to normality. Will the new normal be the same as the old?  How might we adapt, who will be the winners (and losers)?


Fashion occupiers face the problem of having the wrong stock (seasonally) in the wrong place (in store). Liquidating this inventory and turning it into cash will be a priority.  There will be a delicate balance between this and retailing new season product at full price.

This raises the question of how this old season stock is brought to the market:

  • Will it be churned through the web and held in distribution centres/ with 3rd party logistics operators?
  • Sold in existing branch networks but in doing so sacrificing more valuable current season product lines?
  • Could entire inventory be sold to stock liquidators/ 3rd party re-sellers

Is it possible that temporary space will be required to move this stock on?

Drought to Famine?

A surplus of inventory now could be replaced by a scarcity of stock for the Autumn/ Winter and valuable Christmas trading periods.  Going back to source cotton harvests may be disrupted during picking season due to a reduced workforce.

Manufacturing of product in Asia has been impacted by factory shut downs.  Whilst capacity returns to China, other countries in this trading bloc are now feeling the strain of isolation. 

This impact will fall predominantly on the fast fashion industry. 

Will this force a drive to quality and provenance (for those who can afford it)?

Let's Eat.

The hospitality sector was the first to be forced into lock down with the rapid closure of restaurants.  This process was undertaken swiftly and staff were furloughed albeit many in this industry were already on zero hours contracts.

It would be easy to conclude this sector will bounce back fastest once we are allowed out.  Consumer's will most likely favour experience based expenditure over comparison shopping once restrictions are lifted.  Occupiers' ability to respond to this might well be frustrated.

When every restaurant in every chain has to restock from zero how will producers and logistics firms respond to such a mammoth task for a fixed date that may come with little notice? Staff may need retraining, or recruiting and for larger chains their own internal resources may throttle the speed at which every restaurant or bar will open.  

Independent occupiers will be more nimble relying on local producers and supply chains to restock rapidly.  Staff maybe more loyal and training can occur 'on the job'.

Given the strain that many of the larger hospitality groups have been under prior to recent events how will they respond to this challenge?  Might this fuel the resurgence in smaller independent and regional operators.