As non-essential retail stores begin to reopen across Europe, there is a great deal we can learn ahead of the UK releasing lockdown restrictions in June (hopefully).

Based on the reports from Primark and Superdry’s European stores that are now trading again, customers are coming back, albeit in smaller numbers, but when they do shop basket size is up. Given consumer nervousness about social distancing and the impact on footfall, it is therefore critical to make the most of every visit. All the more reason to make customers feel safe in store to allow them to browse and encourage them to add on that extra item to their shop.

For apparel retailers, working out what to do with all the excess seasonal stock is another key consideration. By the time the UK opens we will be three weeks further into the summer season, so it becomes even more acute. If consumers move with the weather rather than go bargain hunting it will be extremely hard to turn that inventory into cash – something many retailers desperately need. 

Getting a detailed plan in place to deal with this inventory is critical and should ideally be developed bottom up, including input from stores as well as buying and merchandising. Innovative clearance mechanics and channels are required to tackle the problem and avoid a huge knock-on impact into Autumn/Winter season. This is the topic of the latest instalment from the AlixPartners retail restart playbook – a practical guide for retailers in the midst of restart planning.