Brands should seize the retail opportunity as lockdown restrictions lift

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Posterscope remember the traction the OOH Guinness Six Nations campaign received and hope a return to the high street.

Posterscope’s mobility report tells us that more and more people are returning to the streets every week, with a big month ahead of us as all essential stores and car showrooms open from 1 June, and non-essential stores open from 15 June.

In addition to a third of the country who can’t work from home returning to work, and unlimited exercise time available, more people will be excited to spend time shopping for the things they haven’t been able to access during lockdown.

This is an amazing opportunity for brands to be the ones that people remember in those early shopping trips, during those moments of absolute delight that have been kept from them for the past few months. For some people, it will also be the start of a return to normal journeys, giving some sense that we are past the worst of this deadly disease.

China is proof of this. Post-coronavirus, retail sales in the country grew phenomenally when stores were told they could safely reopen, with high-end fashion brands like Hermes delivering $2.7m sales on their opening day.

June is likely bring a positive turning point for retail and consumers as people start to do the things they have longed for over the past few months, as well as prepare themselves for a return to their new normal. A recent survey conducted by Autotrader found that 82% of consumers researching their next car were looking to buy now or as soon as they are able to make a transaction, as they plan to use alternative modes of transport rather than public transport.

Out of home can help brands be part of this shift and protect them from a potential second phase of lockdowns. And right now, there are huge incentives available to the advertisers. On average, across June and July deals are offering as much as 50% value, while some pinnacle locations like the Brompton opposite Harrods are offering a never seen before 40% less than normal planning rate. Harrods reopening will, of course, be a big statement in the retail market, and a big moment for the fashion industry as it will no doubt make big headlines. What an opportunity for a fashion brand to be there, sharing in this first post-lockdown indulgence.

The positive mindset of people out for their first big shopping trip and the gradual reintroduction to normal behaviours presents an opportunity for brands to be part of this important moment. As people gear up to return to work, they will be looking to buy new cars and bikes, new walking trainers and comfortable shoes, as well as new wardrobe items as people look forward to socialising, at a social distance, again. People will want to continue and develop the hobbies and lifestyle changes they started in lockdown, whether cooking, DIY, fitness or gardening, and set themselves up to do so properly.

Digital out of home offers advertisers the ability to react quickly to high street reopenings, something not possible in channels such as TV where there is a four-week AVB, and it can also be turned off quickly should circumstances change. OOH media owners are more flexible than ever too, offering last-minute cancellation clauses and deferment possibilities to protect advertisers who book inventory and make the commitment to the medium once more.

OOH can reach 98% of people who are out and about and it provides another window on the high street, both for brands wishing to drive footfall into outlets, or wanting to capitalise on high profile moments such as Harrods reopening. During the Guinness Six Nations, footfall into pubs saw an uplift of 4% in areas running OOH, versus those with no OOH. Out of home can also provide a shop window for digital retailers and is proven to drive people online. Very.co.uk is a great example of a digital retailer creating their own shop window on the high street and stealing share from the physical stores.

OOH can be a powerful tool for retailers to reach people as they begin to emerge from lockdown and return in earnest to the pleasures of shopping.

Leia Reuter, agency strategy director at Posterscope.

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