What’s on the other side of Covid-19 for shoe businesses?

I have no doubt that you will have found the past weeks hard from a personal and business point of view. You will have made, or felt the impact of difficult decisions.

At this point, I hope you are aware of the help which is available for your business and employees. It’s now time to start thinking about what will be next for your business when we’re released from our homes, blinking into (hopefully) the bright summer sun.

Many of your customers will have faced financial difficulties during this time, so expecting a massive surge in spending when lockdown is lifted may be over-optimistic. They will shop, but it may not be in the way they did before.

During times of recession, customers tend to shop with trusted brands offering durable products. Boots which make them feel strong and resilient to the obstructions life is putting in their paths tend to be popular in tough times. So make sure your flat boots are at the forefront of promotional activities come the Autumn.

There’s no denying that the natural world is benefiting from human inactivity (indeed a heron just flew past my suburban office window). Whilst the move towards shopping for more sustainable products was accelerating before Covid-19, customer expectations will become even more demanding when the effects of the virus have subsided.

Transparency is key to communicating your company’s journey towards sustainability. Talk about the progress you have made, and also the areas you are still working on. This type of communication feels more human than only highlighting the good bits. It avoids the kind of press you receive when people find out about the areas you are still improving upon from sources other than your own.

It’s time to inform your customers about what you know to be true. Be bold and talk about leather as a long-lasting material if that fits with your company ethics.  Last year I interviewed Dr Kerry Senior of Leather UK, and found out what his organisation is doing to combat negative press about leather. Take this time to read and become even more informed about the environmental impact of your products and business practices.

Until our world recovers from this pandemic, be kind, keep communicating with your customers, and wait.

Susannah Davda, The Shoe Consultant