100% of hi-fi retailers surveyed by Clarity, the UK hi-fi industry trade association, have confirmed they have, or are, re-opening their shops following the government’s easing of the lockdown rules.
“Music lovers and hi-fi fans will now be able to once again visit their local hi-fi retailers and indulge their passion for better sound and better gear,” says Tom Barron, chairman of Clarity.
In a survey conducted in the run-up to the 15th June date set by the government for the reopening of non-essential retailers, the industry was asked how it has been affected by the lockdown, what efforts were made to continue trading and what its plans are for the reopening of shops.
Unsurprisingly the general trend seen was a reduction in customer spending, for both retailers and manufacturer/distributors, but no companies reported a complete cessation of business activities. The majority of respondents reported that business had continued during lockdown, but with slightly reduced levels of sales. A big switch to online selling and click and collect was evident, which helped mitigate the effects of having to close down retail outlets.
A number of manufacturers and distributors had responded to the needs of their retail customers by instigating a ‘drop-shipment’ model, where retailers were able to order products to be delivered direct by the supplier.
Looking at the measures being put in place to enable the re-opening of traditional bricks and mortar hi-fi shops, the vast majority of companies have introduced PPE for staff, hand sanitiser for customers and staff and greatly increased cleaning, particularly of frequent contact points like door handles, washrooms, display/demo products and remote controls. In order to maximise protection for customers and staff alike, government guidelines regarding queuing systems, distance markers and limits to the number of people allowed into the shops are being put in place. A number of retailers have moved to an appointment only system.
Tom Barron adds, “I am very pleased to see the retailers making concerted efforts to make the environment as safe as possible for shoppers and staff. We operate in a very people-focused business, where personal contact and consultation is key to helping customers achieve their aims and requirements. And, while it is obviously going to be impossible to continue with business as normal, the retailers will all be doing their best to make the hi-fi experience as enjoyable and rewarding as they possibly can.” He continues, “Over the past few months it has been heartening to see how resourceful the retailers and manufacturers have been in helping customers with their hi-fi requirements – a sign of what a great industry it is that we work in and the excellent levels of service we collectively offer.”