A Positive and Negative Trend

19 October 2020, 09:23 am
Speciality Bites by Paul Hargreaves

As the pandemic rolls on, certainly until next Spring if not beyond, I see one very positive trend for speciality food retailers and one not so positive

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, small is beautiful in the eyes of the consumer. All food retailers have done well throughout the pandemic, but small independent retailers have done disproportionately well. This is largely due to the greater sense of trust they give to consumers, the fact that they are embedded in their local communities, and that shoppers can make a quick trip to buy stuff without queuing. I expect this to continue through the Christmas shopping period especially as consumers really want to support their local businesses now more than ever. I predict this will be the best Christmas ever for small independent retailers, and talking to many others in the sector gives good grounds for my optimism.  So does some recent polls which suggest that more than half of people that started to shop locally during lockdown intend to continue.

One unwelcome trend we have seen during Covid, is the reversal of much good work over the previous year in the area of plastic reduction. Understandably health and safety has been put first it, now there is more understood about the virus, it is time for the momentum on plastic reduction to be re-gained.  13 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the sea ever year and whilst the use of plastic water bottles has halved during Covid, there is no doubt that billions of PPE items such as masks and gloves will sadly find their way into our oceans. Only last week I saw several masks on a beach in Ireland.

At Cotswold Fayre, we were due to launch an Unpackaged system to roll out to retailers back in April this year. We delayed this due to Covid, but have launched in October, as we believe the public want, more than ever, to be more environmentally responsible in the way they shop and included in this is reducing their use of plastic. Several retailers already using Unpackaged systems to dispense dry goods into consumer’s own packaging have reported increased sales even during the pandemic. This trend will only go in one direction, and retailers without similar systems will be left behind.

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