Mindful consumption in a high street near you

room44 Ltd

25th June 2020

Supply chains and the hospitality market are decoupling, signalling a resurgence of mindful consumption in a high street near you. New demand will bring back variety to the domestic landscape.

Twelve weeks ago you:

  • probably had to explain what a Zoom meeting was;
  • couldn’t have imagined having your kids at home for two terms;
  • would have struggled to describe a future where online learning was not only possible, but could be transformative.

Twelve weeks ago, fashion houses were expecting their summer collections. Twelve weeks later, their garments are sitting on workshop floors unfinished. Fashion isn’t selling, but bandanas are. Face coverings are a new market.…and pizza is winning in the takeaway stakes. It doesn’t spill and can be reheated.

Music has gone off-piste

Restaurants used to play music that didn’t offend. While restaurants aren’t a thing, music has been rediscovered and new consumers are exploring genres their peer group would have sniffed at before. I’m listening to K.Flay and my teenager has discovered The Cars. Good news for artists and consumers.

Old is good

Old has been embraced. Clothes are being repurposed. Furniture is being renovated and upcycled. Houses aren’t selling, so remodelling is booming, and builders and tradespeople are booked out for years.

Going to work will return to being normal for many people. For others, it won’t be the daily necessity it once was. Both employers and employees are finding new ways.

But here’s the really interesting bit: there is a decoupling in the supply chain and hospitality market that signals a resurgence of mindful consumption in a high street near you.

Supply chain

When COVID-19 hit, supply chains failed. Shipments from overseas dried up and stocks of many consumer products vanished. The effect wasn’t long-lasting, but it has brought into focus the true value of having a long supply chain. Manufacturing scrambled to ‘on-shore’ supply and, now those sources are turned on, there’s a pragmatism about whether they can remain part of the mix. Local supply sources have been winning during lockdown and it’s likely that a meaningful amount of business will remain with domestic suppliers now.

This new demand will not only invigorate production skills wherever you live, but it will also bring back variety to the domestic shopping landscape.

Hospitality

While good news stories about pivots to home delivery and take-away services abound, there are two sides to this story. Voted the ‘best’ restaurant in the world, Noma in Copenhagen re-opened as a burger takeaway. This is a trend you can see up and down the high street – but generally not from the homogenous chains. The indies are fighting back and grabbing market share while the competition is furloughed.

There are many outlets in the hospitality sector, though, that simply won’t re-open. Some say one in three won’t. It’s our prediction that properties will be available at great rents for new tenants on a shorter-term basis. At room44 we’ve predicted the resurgence of the high street several times, albeit not anticipating something so radical as a pandemic. Now it has happened, the trend seems set.

Distribution

The issue of variety comes up here too. With less ‘sameness’ we will see more local bias in the ingredients used to deliver cuisine from every region – and we can’t wait.

This could be good news for food distributors too. Some restaurants have sold over 28,000 meals in a four-week period, where they previously wouldn’t have seen that many covers in a year. Because diners are buying take-aways and not sitting in the room, the cash value of the transactions is down by 85%, but the volume has boomed.

So what?

If entrepreneurs want to enter the market without the fat overheads that corporate operations build over time, now is the perfect time to start looking for premises.

Future thinking. Future proofing. Future opportunity. It’s what we do.

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