There is still much we do not yet know regarding COVID-19’s long-term impact. Yet, there appears to be a growing consensus that banking – indeed, most industries – will not return to normal. Instead, a new normal will result. So, what will this new normal look like?
Much of the recent prognostications restate tired predictions of the ascendency of digital alongside the death of brick and mortar retail. Growth in digital banking interactions during government imposed shelter in-place orders have been shared abundantly as evidence to support this assertion. I think most predictions overstate what is going to happen.
“The End of Main Street”
This is Chris Skinner’s recent declaration. “I think retailers are dead meat”, Skinner declares in a recent blog post. The premise is straightforward. Since consumers flocked to digital during shelter-in-place circumstances, they will continue to do so once in-person options are once again available. After all, once one is bitten by the digital bug, they’ll never go back, right? Who would do such a thing once they experience the overwhelmingly superior convenience of digital banking or ecommerce? One article refers to the branch as “channel of last resort” as consumer behaviors change permanently. Will they?
Customers Will Come Back to the Branch
I think it is helpful to look at the broader retail industry to better understand how retail banking is changing. For this reason, I am a frequent consumer of content from eMarketer, a division of Insider Intelligence. Specializing in ecommerce, eMarketer has been a resource to retail marketers for over two decades. I attended a webinar recently entitled, The Future of Retail 2020. It is a sponsored webinar, so one doesn’t need a subscription to view it. The primary takeaway from eMarketer’s analysis:
The future of retail hasn’t fundamentally changed due to the coronavirus pandemic – but it has accelerated many pre-existing trends.
eMarketer forecasts a 16% YOY growth in US ecommerce in 2020 alongside a decline in non-ecommerce retail spending of nearly 14%. Does this surprise you?