Retailers in Yorkshire are least prepared in UK for second wave, says survey

Eight out of ten retailers in Yorkshire have made no preparations for a second wave of Covid-19, according to a new survey.

Brightpearl CEO Derek O’Carroll

The study by Brightpearl, which provides digital operations services for the UK’s biggest retail brands, suggests that many of the region's firms could face problems if we are hit with a second wave.

It found that 79% of retailers in the region had made no changes to their business model in the event of a second wave in the autumn or winter - the lowest figure in the country.

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In contrast, 68% of retailers in the South West are geared for a second wave, the highest figure nationally.

The health and beauty sector is the least prepared for a second wave in Yorkshire with 75% of companies saying they have made no preparation, the survey said.

Other sectors failing to adapt to the prospect of a second wave include fashion brands (62% have made no changes to their business model) and entertainment brands (57% have made no changes.)

Overall, fewer than half of retailers (42%) are planning any further digital investment to better prepare their business for future spikes in the virus.

And only 56% of retailers said their business could survive the devastating impact of a second wave with widespread lockdowns returning.

The results come from a new survey of 500 retailers.

Brightpearl CEO Derek O’Carroll said: “Retailers in the Yorkshire and Humber region are the least well prepared nationally for a second wave of the virus.

He added: “Only 21% of retailers in the region have made changes to their business model to prepare for possible fresh lockdowns in the autumn and winter.

“Covid-19 is the retail equivalent of a meteor impact: an existential event that changes the composition of the industry and, sadly, as we’ve witnessed, the eradication of many businesses.

“We’ve seen huge digital transformation in the retail industry in a matter of months as companies look to adapt to the disruption, but the majority simply haven’t had the time to consider and plan for what the future looks like post-pandemic. That’s a dangerous position to be in, especially with the looming threat of a second wave of the virus.

“Our free business health checker has been designed for busy firms to quickly assess the health of their current retail operations. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to take stock and understand what areas of the business need a tune up - its long-term survival may very well depend on it.”

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James Mitchinson