Things have certainly been different during the last 18 months, but now it’s time to imagine how local businesses will respond to the world after coronavirus. 
For most of us the pandemic has changed our behaviour more than anything before. Everything from our shopping and socialising to travel and work will be different in the future. Many things that we once thought of as ‘normal’ might never be the same again. 

Cautious customers 

Younger families with children and mortgages are the people most likely to have been on furlough according to YouGov. Many of them still don’t know when or if they will be returning to work. However, high earners living in central city locations are already the most likely to have been made redundant. Overall, things are changing for everyone. 
It’s not surprising that many families have been holding on to their savings in case of a rainy day. However, only just over a quarter of households have been able to add to their savings. In contrast, over a third of retired people have managed to ‘put something extra away for those rainy days’. More importantly for business owners, seven out of 10 of those who have managed to increase their savings plan to hold on to them. 

Socially sensitive 

Wealthier property owners in rural locations are amongst those most uncomfortable about returning to the High Street while young professionals in rented urban properties are more than ready to return to shops, bars, and restaurants, even if they now look very different. 
This is good news for hospitality venues that will probably see their young audiences return quite quickly. However, retailers who rely on wealthier people with disposable incomes might find things more challenging. 
Understanding your customers’ feelings and providing the right offers and promotions to tempt them back could make a difference. 

Following the trends 

We don’t know what the ‘new normal’ will look like and it will probably evolve over time. For example, at the beginning of the first lockdown, online shopping for gardening products nearly doubled by value across all age groups. At the same time high-value women’s clothing saw a sharp decline. However, many sectors started to recover in July when the restrictions eased. 

Town centres transformed 

High Streets have changed dramatically with fewer fashion stores, banks, and betting shops. Now there are more takeaways, beauty salons and, sadly, empty properties. 
With many town centre offices closing as people work more flexibly from home and other locations, patterns of footfall are likely to be very different. Many businesses will need to take a new view of the experiences they offer to their customers. 
While ecommerce might signpost you to an online revolution, many people have become much more interested in independent local businesses where they can meet and interact regularly with owner-managers. 
Moving forward your strongest selling point is likely to be the unique personality you bring to your business. While big businesses might talk about personalising the customer journey you will literally be providing the personal experiences that customers are looking for. 
Understanding the impact of the pandemic at a local level will be important for all businesses to plan for the new normal, based on the evidence about how your customers are adapting. 

Make a statement 

One very effective way to reach people whether they remain on furlough, are working remotely or have taken the opportunity to start a new locally based business of their own, is through printed content delivered directly to their door. 
Pulse magazine is kept and shared, giving your audience plenty of opportunities to see your advertisements and respond. If your customers are other businesses, there are also our trusted Business Times and Business MK titles which are delivered to 15,000 businesses across the region each month. You can also add your own printed leaflets to all or part of our distribution to reach an even more targeted audience. 
By planning your messages carefully, you will be able to track your success and test alternative approaches to see what works best for you. 
We would like to hear about your ‘new normal’, so please contact us to discuss how printed advertising can help. 
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