“Take yourself out of the now and think about what will come next,” says Kantar


Kantar is urging retailers and FMCG brands to “take themselves out of the now” and being occupied with safety screens, protective measures, hazard pay and spot bonuses etc and think about will come next with the coronavirus pandemic.

“The world has changed very rapidly and the attitude of shoppers has changed very rapidly,” said Ray Gaul, VP global research & analytics, consulting division, Kantar, in the company’s ‘Ensuring resilience in retail’ webinar. 

“Consumers won’t want to make the journey into the store and may buy from parking lots – we need to be flexible about how this may play out,” Gaul advised. 

Similarly, standard rules and principles about staffing and payment could be ushered in, along with council by council supply chain and kits to reach the most vulnerable. Operators should also consider the supply chain – what is in it already and what needs to be in it future, said Gaul. He referenced Turkey’s recent export ban on lemons, a key ingredient in cleaning products as a case in point.

In store, the advent of social distancing would accelerate digital practices and online deliveries, while technology would be increasingly used to communicate with shoppers, create safety barriers and keep lines flowing. 

With regards to staff policies, the retail sector was still working but experiencing a significant rise in operating expenses. “They are spending money not just getting staff right but also their uniforms, clothing and equipment. The operating expenses they need to put in place today are going to sky rocket and will not go away in the short term,” Gaul said.

In terms of Government co-operation during the pandemic, social distancing is slowing everything down and self isolating is straining delivery, Gaul said; and he highlighted the restrictions retailer’s have put in place on certain products and for the trend for food boxes and new delivery services.

Gaul referenced the impact of restricted movement on seasonal workers and significant shortfalls across Europe and suggested the army may be drafted in as a replacement.

He also highlighted the shortages in medicines with one in four British consumers unable to get medicines due to out of stocks and that 90% of ingredients for generic medicines were sourced from China.

Gaul showcased examples of likely new retail scenarios such as Carrefour mobilising to help nursing staff shop quickly and calmly; Spanish restaurants converting to supermarkets and Deliveroo partnering with BP and M&S to deliver to households that are isolating.

However, he reminded listeners that weekly operating profits would be very different to the numbers seen in terms of sales due to increased staffing, warehousing and delivery costs.