The ‘New normal’ looks like it’s here to stay after all - Kevin Buckle

Some people are still voluntarily wearing face masksSome people are still voluntarily wearing face masks
Some people are still voluntarily wearing face masks
Like many others I thought that, while it might take a while, in the post-pandemic world people’s behaviour would return to being very much as it was before.

However the crisis lasted so long and in particular the lockdowns hit so hard that it is now clear people’s behaviour and habits have changed forever.

Some things are more to do with habit than anything else. I’m surprised at how many people are voluntarily still wearing masks. From the people I know more claim they just felt they would keep with the mask for a while longer almost as a habit they had to break than others who wear them because of health concerns.

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From a record shop viewpoint I’ve been amazed at how new release sales have moved to mainly being online. Day one sales which include all the pre-orders are currently running at 75 to 80 per cent of all the week’s sales.

Here I have far more feedback and there are a variety of reasons. Fans have been enticed to buy online from artists, labels and record companues by being offered things that can only be bought online whether that is a particular colour of vinyl, or the addition of signed material.

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Bundles that again are only online comprising maybe a record, a T-shirt and a signed print are also a way to make sure customers do not wait to buy a release in a shop and just to make certain it is now common to offer online buyers the chance to buy tickets for upcoming concerts ahead of the official date for tickets going on sale.

Many shops have now taken to scaremongering about the small quantities they have for sale of a “limited” release which again causes fans to buy online “just to be sure”. Here locals can normally opt for collection but that in fact rarely happens.

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Far more important of course is whether people return to their places of work or continue to work from home. Some people have very clear preferences but others admit that having got into the habit of working from home they are wary about returning to their office.

Many are currently spending some time at home and some at their workplace and rather than easing their way back into a full-time return see this as their preferred long-term choice.

I have to say it is not uncommon to phone somebody and find out thay are not available because they are working from home but will get back to me. If they are not taking calls as at work then they are not working from home but simply at home doing some work.

One thing is for sure and that is that the pandemic has favoured online sellers over high street retail and at a time when things like business rates already penalised bricks and mortar shops.

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Businesses are paying business rates and getting very little in return for their money. While it is not easy to see where any replacement cash will come from it should no longer be coming from the sector that has been hit hardest over the years.

Councils relying on high street rates is one habit they need to get out of.


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