Despite the difficulties that Manchester’s businesses have faced over the course of the last year, there has been a little bit of a sense of optimism building that the end of the coronavirus is near.
That may be overstating things a bit, and it is also of course important to note that the new mutation has intensified the spread of the virus for now. Currently, new shutdowns are in effect, and those local businesses that had managed to reopen have shuttered once again.
Nevertheless, the feeling is that as the UK continues to progress toward mass vaccination, life will return to normal and businesses will follow.
Even if this is a realistic hope though, the fact remains that it will be a challenge for local businesses to get back up to speed — particularly if they’re not part of larger chains with robust online businesses.
Because of this, we decided to look ahead at some of the challenges that may linger, not to be overly pessimistic but rather as a means of honestly assessing what’s ahead.
Lingering COVID Cases
The good news regarding the virus specifically is that the UK is among the world leaders when it comes to distributing the vaccine.
The bad news, however, is that the UK is also near the top of the list in new cases. According to a recent update from The Guardian, the nation trails only the U.S. in recent cases diagnosed, indicating that spread is still rampant — and outpacing vaccinations.
It is hoped, of course, that this is more of a short-term problem than a long-term challenge for businesses. But right now the raw numbers indicate that the UK will be dealing with lingering cases and outbreaks for some time yet. Even if local businesses in Manchester and other cities are able to open, they’ll need to undertake precautions and prepare for potential mini-shutdowns in the future.
Online Shopping Habits
Another cold, hard fact for high-street retailers in places like Manchester is that consumers have had time over the course of the pandemic to get even more used to online shopping than they already were. Though there have been some occasional issues with supply chains, product availability, and shipping times, store delivery has held up fairly well overall.
Amazon has thrived throughout much of the world by maintaining its typical high-speed online shopping capability during the pandemic. And in the UK specifically, Groupon recently highlighted Very for its “range of delivery options,” “speedy and easy to track” orders, and affordable shipping.
Stores like these have efficiently provided consumers with everything they need, and local businesses will need to actively persuade some of those consumers to return.
Part of persuading consumers to return to brick-and-mortar businesses will mean establishing a trust factor regarding safety and cleanliness.
The BBC asked last summer if the high streets would get their shoppers back, and noted the “conspicuousness of precautions” as a design of retailers — a means of making shoppers feel safe and protected. Now another half year into the pandemic, this appears to be even more important.
Local businesses both in Manchester and elsewhere will likely have to go to extensive lengths to reassure customers and establish suitable but appealing post-COVID spaces.
Endurance of Adaptations
The last point, and maybe the most interesting, is that local businesses will also need to find ways to sustain positive adaptations that they’ve made during COVID once the virus is under control.
That’s a good thing — but it won’t work the same way after COVID.
The same businesses will have to continue engaging through social media, but shift their messaging and outreach efforts to reflect a more normal society, and ultimately to drive consumers to locations.
This is an opportunity, but one more challenge as well.
Club de Padel – The world’s fastest-growing sport is finally coming to Manchester this month
The world’s fastest-growing sport is finally about to arrive in Manchester – and in a seriously impressive location.
Club de Padel is taking shape at the foot of the Deansgate Square skyscrapers and has officially locked in a launch date.
With four state-of-the-art panoramic courts, the new sports club will be bringing the global sports phenomenon to the city centre for the first time.
It will also have one of the city’s most popular brunch spots and coffee shops, Federal, on site to provide caffeine, snacks, and a selection of drinks in the evenings.
For those unfamiliar, Padel is a mash-up of tennis and squash, where players are enclosed by walls and can play the ball off any wall.
The sport was first invented in Mexico in the late 1960s but has exploded in popularity across Europe in recent years, drawing legions of famous fans.
Andy Murray, David Beckham, Pep Guardiola and Serena Williams have all declared themselves fans, and Lionel Messi went so far as to install a Padel court at his home.
Co-founder James Wigglesworth says: “We can’t get over the support we’ve had from the city so far, our inbox hasn’t stopped with people asking when we’re opening, when they can book, how they can learn to play – it’s been great.
“We’ve also discovered a hardcore element of ‘paddicts’ who travel miles every week to play and are just delighted that we’re landing on their doorstep.”
Club de Padel is partnering with Adidas and HEAD on its equipment and will have one of the UK’s top padel competitors, Alberto Cubero Torregrosa, as head coach.
Alberto said: “I can’t wait to get started at Club de Padel. Having grown up in Malaga, I have been playing padel for over 25 years, so I’m delighted to see it finally arrive in Manchester, where I now call home.
“It is important to me that everyone can enjoy this amazing sport, so it doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner or an experienced player, I am committed to helping you improve and have fun while doing it.”
Club de Padel will officially open its doors on Tuesday 19 December, with bookings open from 5 December for Padel+ members and general public bookings from 12 December.
The new ‘mega store’ officially threw open its doors yesterday (30 November) at 10am, and it’s all just in time for Christmas, so shoppers can get stuck in to buying all their festive food and gifts before the big day arrives.
Having opened as part of M&S‘ ongoing plans and wider investment to regenerate vacant sites in major UK shopping centres, the new M&S Trafford Centre store spans across a whopping 98,000 sq ft of commercial space.
Promising shoppers “an even bigger and better store”, there’s huge new “spacious and stylish” Clothing, Home, and Beauty departments, as well as a brand-new M&S Cafe, and the star of the show being the all-new “market style” Food Hall – which stocks the full M&S Food range, and has “wider and brighter aisles”, with free designated car parking to make shopping “more convenient”.
Percy Pig was on-hand to welcome shoppers to the new store, with the first 200 customers through the door handed ‘golden tickets’.
Every golden ticket holder was guaranteed a win. whether that be a free bag of Percy Pigs, freshly-baked cookies from the new M&S Bakery, or something even bigger – with one lucky customer even bagging a £200 M&S voucher to take home.
180 new jobs have been created by the opening of the new store, and staff at M&S’ former Trafford Centre store have also transferred over to the new location.
The store is led by Store Manager, Laura Smith, along with a team of 420 M&S colleagues.
Soaking up the opening day celebrations, Laura said: “We are thrilled to officially open our brand-new store in the Trafford Centre. The last few weeks have been so exciting for us all as we’ve seen the store take shape, and I’d like to thank everyone in the team for all their hard work to make sure everything is ready for our customers today.
“The store is an exciting investment in the future of M&S in Trafford, and I can’t wait for our customers to explore all the new features that the store has to offer.”