Opinion: The immediate human and public-health cost of the Covid-19 outbreak will pass but will leave behind a fundamental long-term change in customer behaviour and expectations.

First published in The Irish Times, on Friday, 26 June, 2020.

Revenues have collapsed for many retailers forced to close temporarily to reduce the spread of the disease. Others have been challenged by demands for online offerings and disruptions in supply chains. On the flip side, some retail sectors have seen a significant increase in revenue for certain items. Indeed, in the short term, for large grocery retailers such as Tesco, Lidl or Aldi, demand has increased significantly.

With consumers required to avoid public places, retailers offering online shopping have seen an upsurge in sales. Amazon moved to hire 100,000 warehouse workers to meet surging demand.

Even prior to the crisis, ecommerce was the fastest-growing segment of the retail market in Europe and North America. Consumers are now buying a broader variety of goods online, a trend that has been accelerated by the imposed reduction in social contacts due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The result of such action and the shift to online shopping in all areas has resulted particularly in a crisis for the smaller and non-grocery retailers. These are threatened by this unprecedented crisis and their survival is at stake.

Read the full article by Professor Markus Helfert in the Irish Times.