We are now very firmly in lockdown. Yesterday I went to pay a cheque in to the bank in St Andrew’s Square here in Edinburgh. The streets were well and truly empty, the atmosphere was peculiar and the experience of walking through the centre of Edinburgh was one that will stay with me for many a year. No that it wasn’t enjoyable because it was, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the pressure of town life eased.
But the greatest challenge looking around me was how many of these businesses presently closed will be able to open again and in what state will they be? Restaurants, cafes are just part of the picture, I think we all see all sorts of businesses, both large and small closing and in all sectors of the retail world. And of course that will have its impact on the manufacturing and wholesaling businesses that support them. Then there are the offices, where suddenly ‘zoom’ meetings have replaced face to face discussion. I wonder if we will ever board an aeroplane to attend a meeting across the country again or if we will be part of a meeting by zoom? Will there be that need again? Might there be a mixture of attendees; some in person and some virtually?
Interestingly, church and other religious services are seeing an enormous rise in engagement; many more are participating by zoom or skype from the comfort of their homes. But is it just that? Are we more inclined to interact religiously but at a distance? Many ponderables that will be exercised over the coming months.
There is the underlying fear of the unknown that encompasses us all. How long will this go on for, will it end and when it does, what will our world be like? I have just heard that Sir Cameron Macintosh is predicting that theatres will not be at their full potential again until 2023. It seems hard to stomach whilst we are still in May 2020. Will we be able to enjoy the pleasures of the past, or will social distancing become a staple for years to come? Will all travel become even more exacting; foreign holidays curtailed, the movement of people across the globe be minimalised?
Certainly, we in the jewellery business have relied on face to face retailing of our fine jewellery. There is a whole theatre attached to the buying and selling of expensive products and none more so than in jewellery. But we will need to ensure that we can meet the present times head on and that means ensuring our online offerings are all that a client restricted in movement would want. Jewellers have always been prepared to go to their clients and travel the world to do so. But now there may be a different form of passage and meeting.
I, for one, am excited for the future and for what it will bring and that is not only with an explosion of rainbow themed jewellery. I think new ways will be most welcome. Of course, it will take many months if not years for us to metamorphose into what we will become, but there are exciting times ahead!
15th May 2020