Shops urged to get the social message

While consumers are said to average over three hours on social media per day, new research has suggested that the 43 per cent of independent retailers that used it on a daily basis pre-Covid-19 has dropped to just five per cent in some towns.

The social media management platform, Maybe, gathered 20,000 responses from across the UK to understand changing attitudes towards shopping and this included finding that people expect to be making fewer visits to large shopping centres than before lockdown.

When asked what measures they felt would encourage them to shop more, home delivery and a limit on the number of customers in store at any one time scored highest.

Other responses included the ability to book appointments to shop; the availability of Click & Collect, and shop staff effectively policing social distancing, face covering and hygiene regulations.

CEO Polly Barnfield described the social media drop off as “really worrying” in light of such reticence.

“Small shops really need to be on social media and engaging in the local conversations there, because that’s a really effective way of reaching local customers,” she said. “Use it to tell local people the story of your business. Don’t get sucked into believing that social media is for the world; you can make it local if you engage with the local conversation.”

She added: “The majority of people we surveyed still feel anxious about shopping at all with 57 per cent predicting they will shop less in either a High Street or a shopping centre compared with pre-Lockdown.

“But there is good news and that is that retailers are largely felt to be doing a satisfactory job of implementing their safety measures, though they mustn’t rest on their laurels as they risk losing 51 per cent of their shoppers if social distancing measures aren’t enforced.

“This should suit small, independent shops who are able to make changes quickly to the way they work to make their customers feel even safer and more comfortable.”

Mark Walmsley, Chair of the Independent Retailers’ Confederation, said: “This research reveals that the post-lockdown reticence to shop that a lot of retailers feared is evident but that there remain opportunities for innovative small shops to offer a service that overcomes that reticence.

“We continue to see extraordinary examples of innovation and ingenuity in being able to adapt a business to continue trading. This is unsurprising, given the agility and commitment of independent retailers to their local communities and, in this extraordinary year, it is something we will be recognising and celebrating.”


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