A new-found sense of community?

LloydsPharmacy CEO, Toby Anderson, considers what pandemic changes are here to stay.

There are many things that have changed in the last few weeks, especially in the world of healthcare. Things that would have looked odd only three months ago have now become the norm: queues outside shops, screens inside our pharmacies, people wearing masks and visors.

It’s surprising how quickly we’ve come to accept these changes and as we navigate the return to ‘normality’, the question for many is how many of our new behaviours will remain. And probably the question we should ask is: which do we want to retain?

Shopping for essential items is something that has changed for all of us and, like many aspects of the coronavirus, there is a polarisation. Some people have turned to technology, others have changed their habits to look to their local community for supplies rather than larger retailers. Many consumers have done both.

Of course, online shopping is a necessity for some that are self-isolating or shielding, but there’s certainly a new focus on shopping locally, supporting local businesses and the trend to walk or cycle to the shops rather than drive.

Before COVID-19 struck, it’s interesting that 2020 was heralded by many as the year when environmental factors would become mainstream; when people finally reacted to the effect of plastic on our planet. It appears that one impact of the pandemic is that our motor vehicles are being eschewed in favour of pedal power and Shanks’s pony with benefits to both the environment and local businesses.

We’ve seen this reflected at LloydsPharmacy. Always community-based as opposed to town or city-centre like some of our competitors, you’re far more likely to see a LloydsPharmacy in your local parade of shops than in an out of town shopping centre. When others have seen reduced footfall due to lack of travellers or commuters, people have remained loyal to their local community pharmacy on their high street. But apart from the need to stay local, at least for the first few weeks of lockdown, there’s something else happening.

Local people work in local businesses. Those same people you see clapping for carers in their driveways every Thursday. The same people you now see walking their dog or get talking to in the supermarket queue. Community spirit is becoming stronger.

So let this trend be something we take with us ‘post-Covid’. Give local businesses your custom. Consider the environment before you drive. And support your local community pharmacy – whether LloydsPharmacy or an independent. They’ve kept their doors open throughout the trials of the last few months and these dedicated health care professionals will continue to serve you and your family long into the future.