The pandemic did nothing to help high street stores but it gave online shopping a major boost. A report this week suggested that thousands of shop jobs could be lost in Majorca as stores are unable to compete against their dot.com counterparts. This state of affairs is clearly evident on the High Street. I was rather shocked to see the number of empty shop fronts on Palma´s Jaime III this week.
Times are hard and I hate to say this but I do not really know how small stores are going to survive in this era of shopping online. There are areas where shopkeepers can win; personal service, flexible opening hours and instant sale. The problem faced by the owners of many small shops is cost.
They can´t “Open all hours” because they can´t afford to recruit more staff and while opening on Sunday is an option most don´t because of staff costs. More flexible opening is the answer. In Gibraltar the shops open on a Sunday when there is a cruise ship in port.
No cruise ship and they remain closed. Perhaps this is the way forward. Before the pandemic a sizeable chunk of High Street takings was spent by cruise ship passengers. Opening longer when there are large cruise ships in port could be a solution. I have seen large groups of passengers wandering around the city waiting for shops to open. If the cruise ship docks at 8a.m. then open by 9a.m. not 10a.m. Obviously, there are challenges for all businesses at the moment but small shops faced a real battle.