Growing business resilience with COVID-19 in our community
Local businesses may need to develop greater resilience in the coming months as Waipā prepares for the new normal of living with Delta in the community under the Government’s COVID-19 Traffic Light System.
First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson, gave the advice during a presentation to Waipā District Council elected members today.
“The local economy bounced back strongly after the 2020 lockdown, but success was not evenly spread across the sectors. Economic indicators show the path forward might be less favourable this time with the uncertainty around Delta,” says Chris Wilkinson.
When asked how local businesses could develop greater resilience to weather the Covid-19 storm during uncertain times, Wilkinson said the solution lies in being agile and adaptable to rapidly changing consumer values.
According to research from First Retail, there has been a paradigm shift in the values of everyday Kiwis as they become accustomed to living in a Covid-19 world. Longer periods at home meant a bigger focus on ‘nesting’ as people sought to beautify their homes and gardens.
Flexible working could see people searching for alternative spaces to do their jobs such as cafes or libraries and people were spending more time in their own neighbourhoods and supporting locally made products.
Wilkinson commented that there is a surge in spending of premium items as consumers move towards a culture of indulgence and wanting to surround themselves with nice things, explaining the phenomenon as like having an ‘adult security blanket’.
More than ever people are looking to escape their home for experiences, whether it be in a nearby hospitality venue, local day trips or regional trips. As the international border remains locked there is an appetite for domestic travel which has implications for promoting the Waipā district in other regions.
According to Wilkinson, business owners need to become the champions of the district by taking the time to understand what their customers want and what drives them. This means an ongoing dialogue with people who shop with them and people who don’t; and understanding the reasons why. They need to create goods, offers and experiences to reflect the new ways that Waipā locals are living working and relaxing during a pandemic.
The sentiment was supported by Waipā District Mayor, Jim Mylchreest.
“I recommend businesses take a collective focus and share market and customer insights with each other to help our town centres build resilience. It would be great if progressive business owners would consider extending a helping hand to more traditional traders in order to help them understand the changing market and the opportunity that exists around it,” says Mylchreest.
First Retail Group are a world leading consultancy who specialise in working with progressive district councils like Waipā. Find out more about their recommendations for developing growth and resilience in the Waipa business district here.