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Challenge for retailers

One in four say they will shop less in stores

high street shopping at Easter

High street shopping will face big changes (pic: Terry Murden)

One in four shoppers say they will never return to visiting stores in the same way as they did before lockdown.

Most are likely to shun shops that do not provide enough restrictions on the number of customers or provide adequate levels of safety protection such as hand sanitisers.

The findings have emerged in a new survey pointing to the extent of the challenges facing retailers as they prepare to re-open following weeks in lockdown.

The online scheduling firm Appointedd found that 79% of shoppers will be more likely to visit those shops which limit the number of customers while  the availability of hand sanitiser (84%) is one of the main requirements to feeling safe in store. 

The stats point to a clear shift in how comfortable people feel re-entering physical stores with 55% of people not expecting to return to their normal shopping habits when non-essential shops re-open.

One in four (25%) said they did not think they will ever return to the same level of in-store shopping. Bookable fitting rooms (26%) outranked PPE (25%). 

The majority of shoppers still expect to spend the same amount as they did pre Covid-19 (57%) with 17% of respondents saying they would shop less but spend more, indicating that online shopping will accelerate.

Shoppers are signalling that they are ready to engage across a number of channels, even within a single transaction as 76% said that they would reserve or buy an item online and then book a guaranteed click and collect time.

A fifth (20%) of respondents indicated that they would be interested in attending a virtual shopping experience on Zoom, either by themselves or with friends.

Shops in NI reopen

The Northern Ireland Executive has changed tack on shops in shopping centres/malls and will now allow all shops including those in shopping centres/malls to re-open on Friday (12 June). Shops in England can re-open on Monday, but remain closed in Scotland with no date for reopening.

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, today said she would announce the Scottish government’s plans for retail next Thursday.

Following the decision to restart tourism on 15 July she was asked to distinguish between tourism businesses which are also retailers, such as gift and souvenir shops, and other retailers which may sell the same items.

“Of course, there is overlap,” she said.. “I hope to say more about retail next Thursday.”

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers in Northern Ireland and England are in the enviable position of being able to re-open or knowing they can from the start of next week.

“By contrast shopkeepers in Scotland remain in the dark and don’t have an indicative let alone a firm timetable to work towards.”

“Shops have been working hard to get ready to open safely, putting in place the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures to protect customers and staff, using the SRC-Usdaw guide published in April and the Scottish Government’s retail guidance published last month.”

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