Akabo boss Karel Lambert says solidarity towards local businesses has increased during lockdown. Photo: Mike Zenari  

In the past months, he has been sensing a rethinking of customers towards more conscious choices, something that Lambert says has become particularly apparent throughout lockdown when solidarity for local businesses and products came in big waves from existing and new customers. “And even if it is just one percent of the population, it’s already something, because even the smallest step is a step in the right direction, so I see a clear tendency in 2021 that more and more people will start supporting and respecting local businesses.”  

However, contrary to many others in the retail industry, the Akabo boss does not see this growth taking place online.

Whereas, due to lockdown, the shop was forced to temporarily move online earlier this year, he does not believe that online shopping will become a driving force for small local businesses like his own. “After lockdown the demand in our webshop has gone down to almost zero,” Karel notes.

He does not see this changing anytime soon. Especially after being confined to their homes for months at a time, customers will be seeking interaction in the store and this is precisely where Lambert sees the competitive advantage of local businesses in the future.

“I am guessing people prefer coming to the store, feel and try the clothes. In Luxembourg nothing is far away, with the train you’re in the city and in our store in no time. You can try on the clothes right away and see if it fits or not, which is good for avoiding returns,” Karel says, arguing that the personal connection established with customers in his little shop on rue de Bonnevoie is something that is impossible to find in a big high street store. 

A version of this article was originally published in Delano’s January 2021 edition. Be the first to read the magazine by subscribing for home or office delivery here.