Is there space for new brands in these troubled times?

Over the past year, the way we have shopped has changed forever. Being left with no choice but to shop online, we’ve been able to explore new brands and styles, all from the comfort of our own sofas. Our favourite high street brands have cottoned onto this, mainly M&S who started selling Nobody’s Child online late last year (this is the first time M&S have sold a brand which isn’t theirs), and, more recently they bought out Jaeger who fell into administration during the pandemic as a part of their renewed strategy.

Online trade has meant that retailers have been able to analyse more smartly, and react more instantaneously to customer demands and increase our brand trust and relationships, even shops with no online presence such as Primark have been able to make use of social media in order to keep up customer engagement during the pandemic. We feel closer than ever to these top retailers – but what about those starting out?

Lockdown has afforded people the opportunity to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Rather than feeling down about all the spare time and lost jobs, instead the time has been used for people to turn their side hustle into a main hustle, and ultimately, garner an income for it. Yet, in an already crowded market, is there even space for this to be done?

The short answer? Yes. Over the past couple of years consumer mentality has started to change the way we shop, with many of us looking for sustainability as an important factor in our purchases, whilst the pandemic has also made us more likely to shop small, rather than pumping more money into the large popular corporations. However, with so many aspiring brands out there, it’s more important now than ever to find that important niche to make companies stand out. Of course, connections can also help to elevate brands, but for those with less connections and a limited budget, they need to be more imaginative in order to garner attention, perhaps by sending product for an influencer to share.

Looking forward, it’s difficult to know exactly how our physical high street is going to look once things return to some semblance of normalcy. Many were stunned over last week’s announcement that the flagship Topshop store was set to be sold last week, and, with the possibility of doors being shut until Easter, are there more to follow? The pandemic has also seen a rise of virtual shopping experiences, so if this takes off, up and coming brands may not even have to consider a shop floor presence, instead they can solely trade off the internet.

The past year has shown us that nobody can predict what’s ahead, so in an ever-evolving time, we can continue to do our bit to support the industry. Whether it’s a ‘like’ on social media or a purchase from a small business, every little helps to continue their legacies.