Archive for September, 2020

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It’s hard to see the silver linings when faced with a global pandemic, but there are a few.

As the country gets to grips with the new normal, one of the positive side effects has been the growing popularity of cycling.

According to figures from the Department of Transport, the number of people cycling increased by as much as 300% on some days since lockdown restrictions started lifting.


Cycling boom impacts sales

Since the start of the pandemic, Halfords have reported a significant rise in the sale of bikes as more of us swap four wheels for two.

Prompted largely by the restrictions on using public transport, the company saw it’s cycling sales increase by 71% in August. 

According to Halfords, these ‘favourable market shifts’ are the result of people looking for bus and train alternatives and wanting to get healthy, as well as the government’s Fix Your Bike voucher scheme.

Meanwhile, Evans Cycles – which provided thousands of free bicycle MOTs for key workers throughout the pandemic – has also seen a huge spike in sales. The company is expanding fast, with new stores popping up over the past few months in both Leicester and Newcastle. 

Some of the demand can also be attributed to the government’s Better Health campaign. Designed to reduce obesity and save lives, it encourages people to adopt healthier lifestyle habits, such as cycling to work and getting more exercise.


Staycations boost demand for car services

Halfords has also seen increased demand for its car services – in part because many of us swapped holidays abroad for staycations this summer.

The company’s car retail sales saw a significant boost as individuals invested in bike racks and roof boxes (rather than airline-approved cabin bags) in preparation for holidays in the UK.

Halfords also reported a 30% rise in the number of services it carried out on cars, after many vehicles were left relatively unused during April and May.

In the early days of lockdown, sales at Halfords autocentres were down by a fifth. However, trade has since bounced back by 54.7% in July and 65.2% in August. Total sales in the company’s autocentres are also up by 30.2% this year to date.

As a result, Halfords expects its half-year profits to be between £35 and £40 million, up from £27.5 million last year.


Communication makes anything possible

The company is now preparing for the winter months – not generally a time when we see a high demand for cycling products and prep for staycations. However, with creative and imaginative marketing campaigns, we know the company can continue to make an impact and maintain sales.

If you’d like to find out more about how Delta Group can help your business harness visual communications and technology to boost sales email hello@thedeltagroup.co.uk.

There’s no denying the impact the pandemic has had on the high street. Now that brick-and-mortar stores are back open for businesses, big-name retailers are realising that innovation is key to survival and are totally rethinking the way they operate. 


The rebirth of the high street? 

Despite what the naysayers have proclaimed in the past, the high street is certainly not dead. It still retains life, with British Retail Consortium chief executive, Helen Dickinson OBE, telling Which? that she’s hopeful of its future.

Dickinson commented: “Retail is one of the most innovative and vibrant industries, and it is adapting to changing consumer behaviours and new technologies.

“Consumers are increasingly looking for experiences, leisure and services to complement traditional retail, and it is great to see so many retailers rising up to this challenge.”

Which? examines the tactics some of Britain’s best-loved retailers are using to survive and thrive in this ‘new era’. 


M&S – new formats and farming units 

One way M&S is thinking outside the box is by launching a ‘new format’ store in Nottingham. The idea is that it seamlessly integrates with the retailer’s checkout-free payment app, not dissimilar to those that supermarkets have been promoting during lockdown. The store will also offer free Wi-Fi along with a rapid click-and-collect service. 

But that’s not all; M&S has also revealed a partnership with urban farming platform Infarm, which will give Londoners the chance to purchase some of the freshest herbs around. There are currently farming units in seven stores, which offer a climate-controlled environment that supports growth of the herbs. 


John Lewis – moves in a different direction 

John Lewis’ CEO Sharon White recently announced a major strategic review of the company. While there was some focus on enhancing the shopping experience, the more innovative part was the identification of new services for the retailer to explore. 

Such services include housing rental, where John Lewis will repurpose closed stores as rented and affordable accommodation; extra financial services to support its credit card and insurance products; and rental and resale of second-hand goods. 


Selfridges – moves outside 

London department store Selfridges has opened a market outside of its Oxford Street location in response to social distancing requirements. ‘Market on the Mews’ sells food and drink, flowers and homewares, and is open every weekend. 

Similar to John Lewis, Selfridges has also unveiled plans for a rental service which will let people hire luxury clothing from 40 of its biggest brands. It’s also considering repairing and reselling items in support of its sustainability drive.


Brands automate

A number of retailers are exploring AI technology as a way to innovate. Asda is trialling cleaning robots which work around shoppers, while the Co-op has grown its robot delivery service in Milton Keynes. Its robots were even taught to ‘clap and cheer’ NHS staff on Thursday evenings during the peak of lockdown.

Amazon, also, will be launching brick-and-mortar stores across the UK this year. The twist is that there will be no checkouts whatsoever – instead, customers are charged via their mobile devices for whatever they take from the shelves. 

As a retailer, you know you need to constantly evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of your consumers. If you need help when it comes to creating compelling and innovative marketing campaigns, get in touch with the Delta Group today by emailing hello@thedeltagroup.co.uk.

Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster film Tenet hit the big screen at the end of August with added pressure – it was billed as the movie that could save coronavirus-hit cinemas. But one film alone isn’t going to be able to sustain cinemas for too long. So, what are cinemas going to do to lure film-goers back amid a pandemic that is unlikely to have a grip on the country well into 2021?

As of 7 September, Tenet had grossed £10m, making it the seventh highest-grossing film of the year so far in what is a unique time for film releases. Collider said that “while it’s not quite the numbers Nolan and Warner Bros were hoping for, Tenet’s box office performance is undoubtedly encouraging for the industry”.

However, the true test will be in the coming weeks. Other studios will be looking on to see if Tenet continues to do good numbers before deciding whether to further postpone major blockbusters like Black Widow and No Time to Die (both currently scheduled for November) or go ahead with their current release plans.


What does this mean for cinemas?

It’s a nervous time for cinemas, who will be reassured to see audiences return in good numbers despite virus mitigation measures, including social distancing and masks, being in place.

It goes some way to proving that there is nothing like the big screen experience. Consumers have tried to replicate it whilst the cinemas were shut. According to OnBuy’s internal data, it has seen a 365% increase in at-home projectors sales since lockdown began. But, in order to see the newest releases in HD and with surround sound, a visit to the cinema is required.

However, the cinema experience has largely been the same for many years. Is it the perfect time for cinemas to innovate the big-screen experience as a way of maintaining their edge over the streaming platforms?

Brian Gilligan, director of The Arc Cinema, says that “thinking differently about the big screen means that the medium can continue to thrive”.

Speaking to This is Money, Gilligan explained that some new cinema designs, such as the Ōma, which is set to launch in Paris in 2021, are already looking to elevate the cinema experience further. The architecture of the Ōma cinema is based on three major features: an original ‘platform’ layout; a flexible seat arrangement in each ‘balcony’; and projector positioning among the seating ‘pods’ allowing audiences to get much closer to the screen and the action.

Although not deliberate, Ōma’s ‘theatre box’ design means it’s perfectly suited to social distancing too, Gilligan noted.

While now is perhaps not the best time for cinema chains to redesign their screens, having burnt cash during lockdown, it’s certainly something to consider going forward.

For now, it’s all about reinforcing the magic of the big screen to audiences and showing them how they can enjoy the biggest and best blockbuster movies safely.

For help in elevating your offering through a creative and imaginative marketing campaign, get in touch with Delta Group today.