Analysis: After the most unpredictable year ever, is the five-year strategy dead?


It’s difficult to know what’s going to happen next week, never mind next year. In this environment, can retail leaders work to five-year plans? Grace Bowden investigates.

If one were to play a game of 2020 buzzword bingo, the word ‘unprecedented’ would no doubt feature heavily.

The retail sector has undergone an avalanche of change in just eight months, which has dealt a hammer blow to many retailers’ well-laid plans.

Before the pandemic, businesses ranging from John Lewis to Boots were betting on in-store experiences and city-centre store overhauls to drive their resurgence – plans which now seem out of step with how people are shopping right now.

There is currently no timeline for when this virus will be around, how quickly a vaccine once found will be widely available and when – if ever – consumer behaviours will return to anything resembling normality.

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