Paul Hargreaves: Dare we yet look forward to a post-Covid world?
According to our prime minister, there is light at the end of the Covid tunnel, but for many of us that may still seem a long way off, particularly for those in the hospitality world. But to not look forward is to potentially go backwards, so let’s try and have a glimpse of the future as Selfridge’s and many garden centres have spent this last weekend preparing to open at least part of their stores again. What has changed in the past few weeks?
As I have said before many more people are shopping locally and I believe these customers will remember the good experiences they had had over the past few weeks. More people are cooking and baking at home, and perhaps a deeper appreciation of good food. More people are also expecting home delivery of food, whether from their local chocolate brownie shop (in my case) or their farm shop, many of whom have started home delivery for the first time. We would be wise to make plans to expect these trends to continue post-Covid. Could we be doing more?
This week would have seen the first two Christmas launch events for Cotswold Fayre. What do we expect to happen with Christmas this year? Several retailers I have talked to are expecting a big one. Many families have missed Mother’s Day, Easter, birthdays and anniversaries during the year and there will be some big celebrations as families come together for the first time later in the year around Christmas. More cooking and baking and eating quality food at home I think will be the order of the day. So retailers, even though Christmas is far from their minds at present, will need to plan as normal for the Christmas season, despite the lack of trade shows and events and the current inability for their sales people to come and see them. Perhaps there will be more reliance on catalogues and video calls to place orders this year?
I would say that perhaps the currently planned autumn trade shows could potentially morph into Christmas events, but this does not give enough time for suppliers and producers to turn stock around. Secondly I have grave doubts whether these events will go ahead, even if they do, will customers actually want to come? Probably not as we are moving into a different world, maybe trade events have had their day as they were waning in popularity anyway. We have learned to have meetings with 2 to 100 people over the past few weeks, perhaps we should learn how to do virtual trade shows too? It would certainly be good for the planet and the exhibitors cashflow.