It comes as no surprise that social distancing measures are changing the way we interact with others and the places we frequent in our community.
The resulting economic downturn is widely reported and many small retailers have chosen to simply shut their doors. Whilst this may well be the only option for some service and retail providers, it should not be the default option of choice.
Local strip shopping areas have the opportunity of being revived as home workers, who would typically work in the city or elsewhere, take a break and walk down to their local for a coffee, lunch and home provisions. This behaviour further extends on weekends where once again we all need to stay as local as possible to avoid unnecessary travel. However, a retail strip works best when as many retailers as possible are open.
In particular, we are seeing good food and beverage operators adapting to the current restrictions by streamlining their operations and offering a scaled back version of their menu with best-selling and staple items only.
Last week I was speaking with the owner of my favourite local café in Hawthorn who tells me they are doing much better now, in this current environment, than ever before. They have changed their offering to take away only, remained open and persevered. Their regular customers continue to support them and additionally they are now being patronised by more local residents.
If you are a business trying to weather the pandemic the best thing you can do is to look at different ways to do business. Consider scaling back your offering to remove heavy resource/ low margin offerings. Take the opportunity to readjust things that aren’t working. Are you offering things to your customers you wish you didn’t have to? Now is the perfect time to justify removing those options.
You should also review and/or ramp up your online profile, not only to let customers know that you are open but to advise of your options such as home delivery, “click and collect”, “contactless” service etc.
Businesses who do close their doors need to consider the longer term implications of that choice. Loyal customers forced to go elsewhere, may permanently change their preference and never return. Many businesses are built on relationships, your customers won’t abandon you if you don’t abandon them.
Further more, the brutal truth is that some companies won't survive these current economic troubles. Streamlining your business model and remaining open now, can position you to take advantage of the new landscape on the other side of the crisis.
There is a silver lining to be found if you are prepared to adapt your business model and persevere to survive.
Written by Richard Munday
Having specialized in Retail Leasing within the Cities of Boroondara, Stonnington and Port Philip, and more generally in commercial sales & leasing for some 30 years, Richard is considered a local Melbourne commercial property expert.