What Will The Future of UK Retail Look Like?

How will COVID-19 change the way we shop? The UK is almost in its third month of lockdown, and as we’re all anticipating the return of salons for a much-needed haircut, our fitness studios for a group sweat-session and our retail stores to finally pick up the latest buys, we ask ourselves - will each of these destinations ever be the same? What will it look like and what adaptations will brands, salons and stores be implementing? 
What we’re certain of is that there will be new safe-guarding measures such as maintaining social distancing, sanitising stations and possibly protective screens at tills with contactless payments only. Upon entering shops (through single entry and exit) it might be mandatory to wear gloves and masks, and changing rooms will be closed. According to First Insight, 65% of women and 54% of men wouldn’t feel safe trying clothes on in changing rooms due to the crisis.


When it comes to buying your beauty products, the traditional method of try-before-you-buy with testers and makeup application counters will most likely be gone. Consumers are looking for digital solutions now, and some brands have adapted to this already. Chanel have created an Instagram filter of virtual try-ons of their lipstick shades and aestheticians are taking online video consultations; there are also apps such as YouCam that have partnered with brands such as YSL Beauty and Estée Lauder to allow customers to test their products virtually. Last year, YouTube announced the launch of its new AR feature, that allows viewers to try on and buy MAC products, and app BGX - the Deliveroo for beauty, delivers skincare, makeup and hair products straight to your door from your favourite salons. Over the next few months, we expect to see more digital innovations for trying and buying beauty.
According to Cult Beauty, the number of Google searches for DIY beauty treatments has quadrupled since March and April 2019, with the search for ‘haircut’ rising by 1379%, ‘home facial’ by 115% and ‘face masks’ by 233%. Personal training company OriGym found that search terms such as ‘home workout’ and ‘home gym equipment’ had spiked by 600% worldwide. Spas, salons and gyms are some of the most high-risk places with lots of close-contact, so how will we be getting our fix of beauty and grooming treatments post-lockdown? We think future appointments at your hair salon or nail studio will include PPE for both workers and clients, as well as thorough sanitising. Stations will be disinfected in between each client, and walk-ins will be a thing of the past.


Gyms are likely to increase their hygiene measures, by cleaning more frequently and thoroughly, or focusing on outdoor bootcamps. There may be barriers or partitions between machines to keep distance between users, and class sizes could be reduced to maintain social distancing, possibly taking temperatures before being accepted into a class.
In these uncertain times it might not be the best shopping and pampering experience we were hoping for, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction in controlling the COVID crisis.