Retail marketing 15.01.2021
Reflecting on retail 2020: Looking forward to 2021

As a year like no other, many of us will be pleased to see the back of 2020. The pandemic has hit Retail hard as shops were forced to close, affecting both consumer thoughts and shopping behaviour.

But with the hope of the vaccine rollout in 2021 reducing the need for lockdowns and increasing our freedom, will that bring welcome relief for Retail?

At ARIAN, we wanted to reflect on 2020 by talking to our colleagues about how their shopping habits have changed and crucially what they think 2021 may bring for Retail.


The key things we have learnt:

  • We have missed human interaction
  • Localisation / Community will remain important
  • People want to get back out onto the high street
  • Online has fulfilled an immediate demand but people want the immediacy of in-store


It’s no surprise that the vast majority of our colleagues have shopped online more in 2020. But, however convenient shopping online can be, sometimes there’s nothing like being in-store.

What did colleagues miss most?

Most colleagues missed the simplicity of walking out of a store with their chosen item/s, so not needing to wait for delivery. However quickly an online retailer can bring you your goods, the instant nature of a purchase with shopping bag in hand can’t be beat.

Our colleagues also missed being able to browse product ranges – which is an easier experience in-store than it is on Amazon if you don’t know what you’re looking for!

Where did they shop?

More colleagues preferred to shop in local town and village centres rather than city centre stores, for the ease, locality and safety benefits, with “less chance of catching covid” stated.



So how are we feeling at the start of 2021, with lockdown measures again hampering in-store retail?

Most colleagues are planning to shop in the same way as they did in 2020, plus opting for Click and Collect services and shopping less frequently. Ensuring a seamless customer experience from web to store for collection will be invaluable to encourage potential store browsing and additional purchase once there.


Shopping in-store again

When shopping in-store, colleagues will still want to visit their local town and village centres, along with retail parks and standalone superstores, but more colleagues, encouragingly, also want to shop in a city centre location.

One colleague said: “City Centre will feel like a treat after not shopping there much in 2020” and another: “I like the uniqueness of smaller stores which tend to be in city centres”. There’s a feeling that stores will be safer once more people have been vaccinated.

Retailers will be looking at their product range portfolio across their store network, ensuring that their promotions are reaching customers as widely as possible, and tailoring them to match their new store demographics.



Production from ARIAN has continued throughout the pandemic to meet the evolving needs of our clients.

Our colleagues have noted that we’ve offered “more bespoke responses to individual client needs” and quicker turnaround on promotional items to make the most stores being open and staying reactive. Regional campaigns are also more apparent as tier restrictions affect stores differently.

Store focus for 2021

We asked our colleagues what they think Retailers should focus on for the year ahead.

Along with practical solutions of ensuring that store layouts are safe and making the most of click and collect options: “safe welcoming layouts to help increase confidence”, the overriding feeling is that shopping needs to feel like an experience more than ever before, and one that can’t be replicated online.

What can stores do that online can’t?

The in-store atmosphere and experience are key. Shoppers want to see something new when in-store, so offering in-store only events, offers and exclusive products are recommended to tempt shoppers back. Bold promotional messaging in store can help to direct shoppers around your ranges and ensure that their experience is one that they want to repeat.

We’ve also been missing human interaction in 2020, and personal customer service also ranks highly as a focus for retailers, so ensuring that stores retain as many store staff as possible is important to provide a warm welcome for shoppers.



There are a lot of question marks for the year ahead for Retail. However, there is optimism that the latter half of 2021 will be fueled by pent up demand and increased consumer confidence. Having agile promotional plans for the year ahead can ensure that you can meet your shoppers needs and can continue to excite and delight them in-store.

If you’d like some help with your promotional print retail plans in 2021, please contact us and we’d be more than happy to help.

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