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One of the more unexpected side effects of recent times is that Covid-19 has managed to infect our vocabularies.

But aside from Furloughing, Social Distancing, Zooming and Self-Isolating (previously known as Staying In) there’s one turn of phrase which is particularly difficult to escape at the moment: The New Norm.

No matter your predictions about what’s yet to come this year, you don’t need a crystal ball to see that retail has got to change.

With a reported 66% of women and 54% of men now not feeling comfortable working with staff in-store, and some staff describing the feeling of not knowing who’s safe to interact with as “Shopworker Roulette” – it’s fair to say the challenge for retailers isn’t just in making stores safer, but in effectively communicating that they are as well.

Another challenge will of course be figuring out which of the new behaviours and innovations we’ve seen so far this year will stick around and which will fade away.

Recent times have seen the rise of some brilliant shopping experience innovations, such as staff-to-consumer video platform ShopLive by UK-based Dixons Carphone, and Squad Shopping Apps, which allow friends to shop, discuss and vote on products they like through purpose built social platforms.

At the completely opposite end of the generational spectrum, Baby Boomers have turned into Silver Surfers, getting more and more comfortable with the digital world, which – if deemed more convenient – could lead to new habit formation.

What this all means for the future though is pretty hard to predict; Gen Zers and Boomers could both jump back to physical retail at the first chance and all the digital innovations that seem important today could be quickly forgotten tomorrow.

But with that said, brands and retailers are presented with the challenge of finding a way to adapt to a second wave of behavioural change that’s set to come with the recession.

So, the million dollar question: how do you plan for ‘the New Norm’ when it’s so unclear what the future will even look like?

As the old saying goes, success leaves clues, and reviewing what has happened already this year regarding human behaviour and brand reaction gives us a lot of interesting insights into the best way to handle the challenges we’re yet to face.

In our latest report – Beyond Covid-19 – we explore what the behavioural changes from the early part of this year might tell us about consumers in the future, and how brands will need to react.

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