THE retail sector was changing fast before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Traditional bricks and mortar retailers were battling to combat the drive to online shopping and the cost of doing business on the high street before Covid-19 became part of our everyday lives.
Now, after months of lockdown and new trading restrictions introduced in stores to prevent the spread of the virus, the challenges facing the industry are even more severe.
The gravity of the situation has been laid bare by the vast number of redundancies seen in the sector in recent weeks and days. It was announced yesterday that nearly 400 people had been made redundant at Scottish clothing retailer M&Co following a ‘pre-pack’ administration deal that saved more than 2,200 jobs. WH Smith, meanwhile, said it could axe up to 1,500 jobs amid the continuing effect of Covid-19 on the retail business.
The reduced footfall in stores was reflected in figures released last week by the Scottish Retail Consortium, which revealed that nearly £2 billion of retail sales have been lost because of the pandemic.
How the retail sector can respond to the crisis is the subject of a special virtual event to be hosted by The Herald on Thursday, September 17.
The Future of Our High Street event, held in association with international law firm CMS, will feature a keynote speech from Vivienne King, chief executive of Revo, the retail property and placemaking specialist, followed by a debate on key issues by a panel of experts.
The panel includes Jackie Milligan, founder of ShopAppy, Sophie Shannon, associate director of NewRiver, Alan Antony, founder of Threesixty Architecture, and Katie Nagy de Nagybaczon, partner at CMS. Topics on the agenda will include how innovators, retailers and policymakers are tackling the challenges and opportunities facing towns and cities, and how the high street can diversify and regenerate to ensure it has a prosperous future.
The event will be moderated by Scott Wright, deputy business editor of The Herald.
Allan Wernham, managing director of CMS, said: “Even pre-Covid, the high street was undergoing major change, due to socio-economic, political and digital factors. The pace of this change is now ramping up, and the future of the high street is likely to be different to that which we would have envisaged a year ago.
“CMS is delighted to be working with The Herald to deliver The Future of Our High Street event, exploring the contributions which can be made by all parts of our communities to respond to new challenges and embrace new opportunities. Our panel will include representatives from the retail, infrastructure and creative sectors, and we look forward to being part of this vital debate.”
Readers can join the discussion by registering via the dedicated website – http://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/future-of-our-high-street-2020/
The event will be held on Hopin, an online events platform for engaging virtual events that connect people around the globe. For more information contact Lyndsay Wilson, events director, by emailing Lyndsay.email@example.com.