The Impact of COVID19 on the Food Retail Industry in the UK
The retail industry has been undergoing a revolution ever since the advent of the internet and online shopping. Increasingly, customers are buying online, and therefore able to choose from many different retailers and have low prices. However, brick and mortar shops have continued to succeed, as many shoppers have wanted to shop from actual shops and experience the pleasure of shopping. However, the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic radically changed shopper perceptions about the risks and rewards of actual shopping. Firstly, many shoppers moved to online shopping, as this was dimmed to be highly safe as compared to actual shopping. The possibility of contamination in the retail shopping environment has meant that consumers are increasingly not shopping in stores (Alaimo et al., 2020, Ali, 2020). Closures and lockdowns around the world have also negatively impacted the retail environment within the UK and changed shopper habits (Bhatti et al., 2020, Chang and Meyerhoefer, 2021). Change in the buying power of consumers due to job losses and businesses doing badly has also impacted users, as increasingly consumers do not have the buying power to shop often. This has defended the retail sales in the UK and changed the shopping habits of consumers (Grashuis et al., 2020, Koch et al., 2020).
1.2 Scope of Research
This research will aim to understand the perspective of customers and how the Covid 19 pandemic has changed their perceptions about the retail environment. The research will aim to understand ways in which consumer buying power is changing (Li et al., 2020, Nguyen et al., 2020), and their needs for low cost and effective retail environments can be fulfilled. This research will also aim to understand ways in which retailers can change their offering, and cater for the retail environments by cutting costs and increasing the convenience for the end-user effectively. This will ensure that the research can examine the different perspectives within which the research can be undertaken. In the case of the food retail industry (Grashuis et al., 2020, Koch et al., 2020), consumers are increasingly more price-conscious, and if they can be given the best quality products without the need to do a weekly shop, then this would be a success.
1.3 Research Question
Based on the initial research, the following research question has been defined:
• What is the impact of Covid 19 on the retail industry in the United Kingdom?
1.4 Aims of Research
Based on the initial review of the literature and the research question, the following main aims of the research have been defined:
• Study ways in which consumer behaviour and buying habits in food retail in duty have changed due to the Covid 19 Pandemic
• Study ways in which food retailers can change their value proposition and setup for consumers
• Examine ways in which consumer needs can be addressed by food retailers in future
2 Literature Review
2.1 Traditional View of Retail Shopping
The retail industry is increasingly under pressure in the UK, as consumers are becoming increasingly price-conscious (Hollingsworth, 2004, Hutchinson et al., 2006). This has meant that the consumer is increasingly concerned about pricing and conveniences. The advent of online shopping in the 2000s put pressure on the typical supermarket retailers on high street (Megicks, 2001, Reynolds et al., 2005). This has meant that retailers often cannot compete with online sellers as they have to bear higher costs. However, traditionally, the retailers have been able to compete as they have found that many customers are willing to pay extra if they can see the item. This has continued to support the brick-and-mortar environment within which most of the traditional retailer’s work. However, many consumers find that price comparison in the online environment gives it an edge, as pricing can be a major factor that attracts customers (Yu and Ramanathan, 2008, Yu et al., 2014).
2.2 Post-Covid 19 Pandemic Retail Environment
The Covid 19 pandemic has a significant impact on buying behaviour of shoppers (Bhatti et al., 2020, Grashuis et al., 2020). Firstly, one of the key impacts is how consumers are no longer willing to come to markets and places of rush. The risk of contamination is a significant issue for most customers, and therefore online shopping has been increasing. The ability to compare prices within the safety of their homes has allowed consumers to integrate their shopping patterns according to the changing nature of shopping. Another element that has impacted the customer is a decrease in buying power of the customer. As more and more business has found it tough to operate in a pandemic environment, job losses have been significant (Alaimo et al., 2020, Ali, 2020). This has meant that the buying power of the consumer is limited, and they are unable to earn as much. This has also meant that the consumer cannot earn from many different jobs, and are often limiting their purchases (Li et al., 2020, Nguyen et al., 2020). One of the impacts that this has is also important to take into account. This is especially important as the various customers are cutting down their purchases of luxuries and items that they do not need (Roggeveen and Sethuraman, 2020, Sharma and Jhamb, 2020). This has meant that many of the stores which stock goods and services need to ensure that they can deliver new products and services, and therefore this can lead to long term changes in consumer behaviour (Roggeveen and Sethuraman, 2020, Sharma and Jhamb, 2020).
The changing customer behaviour in the post-Covid 19 pandemic has also meant that the consumers are also not buying luxury items due to a lack of income. The changing consumer behaviour is also dependent on the way they feel secure. One of the factors which are important for consumers is their ability to develop and understand the online market, and compare prices. If price comparison in the case of the food industry. Many consumers want convenience, which in the food retail industry is highly important so that the consumers can do their weekly shop without hassle and in a safe environment (Alaimo et al., 2020, Ali, 2020). The limiting of the timing of the food retail industry has also meant that consumers want to shop online for the food, and this has been enabled by how the consumer can develop and understand the different elements in their daily shopping, and lead to a long-term change (Nguyen et al., 2020, Chang and Meyerhoefer, 2021).
2.3 Changing Customer Behavior for Food Retail Environment
Foods’ retail has always been based on weekly shopping which is undertaken by consumers. However, the advent of online shopping has changed the way shopping g is undertaken. Consumers are now willing to shop from many different locations by undertaking a comparison. This can be highly important, as the different elements must be contained over time, and lead to improvement in the way customers can get the best possible deal for themselves (Clough, 2002, Johansson, 2002). This is also important to consider, as the ability to deal with customer needs is also important, as this would be an important element in the way they work with the different prices (Chang and Meyerhoefer, 2021, Sharma and Jhamb, 2020). The ability to deliver products that are fresh to the end customer is also important, as this would allow the individuals to understand the different initiatives, and develop and understand the prices which can attract them. In the case of the Food retail environment within the UK, the four main supermarkets have already been highly competitive. Price comparison between Tesco, Asda, Morrison and Sainsbury has meant that pricing is a highly competitive aspect. However, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, this has been an increasingly challenging aspect that needs to be supported (Chang and Meyerhoefer, 2021, Sharma and Jhamb, 2020). This is also an important element, which can be delivered by the use of online shopping. This is important to take into account, as the consumers must feel that they can get a value for money proposition (Clough, 2002, Johansson, 2002).
3 Research Methodology
A mixed methods research will be employed for this research. This will entail the use of both qualitative and quantitative methods, to triangulate the data and increase the reliability and quality of the research, Mixed methods research uses qualitative data to draw out the main issues which have been highlighted by the respondent (Creswell, 2014, Leech and Onwuegbuzie, 2009). Qualitative research has the potential to highlight the main issues which are important for the various stakeholder, and help in understanding the various issues which may be highlighted by the respondent s(Jamshed, 2014, Campbell, 2014). The iterative nature of qualitative research also allows the researcher to query about many of the aspects which they may not have understood, and therefore develop a deeper understanding of the problems and issues regarding a particular reach. However, one of the main limitations of qualitative research methods is that it is subjective, and cannot collect large tracts of data due to the laborious nature of data collection and analysis (Oun and Bach, 2014, Khan, 2014). In conjunction with qualitative research methods, quantitative research allows the collection of large data sets. These can then be analyzed through the use of any statistical software such s as SPSS. This allows triangulation between the qualitative and quantitative data and therefore increases the validity and debility of the research results.
3.2 Research Design
3.2.1 Phase 1
This research will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will be qualitative and inquisitive, and undertake in-depth interviews with 10 customers who have been using food retail websites. Another 10 interviews will be conducted with managers of food retailers to know their views. Interviews will be semi-structured to allow the collection of data from a variety of sources. The results from the semi-structured interviews will be analyzed through the thematic analysis of the data. The main results which are derived from the qualitative research will be used to develop the second phase of the research.
3.2.2 Phase 2
In the second phase, quantitative data will be collected. 100 customers will be provided with the closed-ended questionnaire, which will allow data collection from a large number of respondents. The use of quantitative research will ensure that the researcher can get results from a large number of respondents, and therefore the personal bias of the research is also reduced. Moreover, the use of quantitative data also ensures that data is from multiple sources to increase validity.
3.3 Analysis of Data
Data analysis will be undertaken in two phases. In the first phase, thematic analysis of the qualitative data will be considered. This will ensure that the data from qualitative sources are divided into multiple themes and interrelationships between the data. The main results will allow an analysis of the quantitative data.,. Unitive data will be cross-tabulated to examine the relationship between the various data items. This will ensure that the data is checked for triangulation of the data. Data will be arranged by having a comparison of the variables, and ensure that the link between the various variables is highlighted. This will work to improve the reliability of the research.
3.4 Ethical Considerations
Several ethical considerations will also be considered as part of this research. All respondents will have the choice to leave the research at any time. Any respondent who is below 18 or not mentally sound will be excluded from research. A detailed information sheet will be provided with all informants to ensure that they can undertake informed consent. All data collected about informants will be used after anonymization. This will ensure that no personally identifiable information is used for any informant. This will ensure that the informants are willing participants. The maximum time taken from each informant will be one hour to ensure that it does not take away too much time from anyone partisan.