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COVID-19: Brits reveal how lockdown has changed their attitudes towards retail

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Monday 15th of June saw all non-essential shops open for the first time since March. For business owners, it was the first steps to regain some normality in a year that has arguably changed the face of retail as we know it…

For giants such as Primark (who did not have any E-commerce store), this 3-month in-store shopping ban proved detrimental for the brands profit. In April the fast-fashion clothing house sales plunged from £650 million a month to zero.  And while swarms of people queued to re-enter their storefront this week, it appears some shoppers are still apprehensive about hitting the high street.

A survey conducted by behavioural research consultancy SimpleUsability, shows a nation divided about the return to retail we once knew, 36% said they feel good about the easing of lockdown, but 35% said it’s too early and they want to continue staying at home.

52% of respondents said they need to see the measures shops have taken to keep people safe, before they visit again, but 24% said they are staying away altogether no matter what shops look like.

Worryingly, 50% said they would also avoid restaurants and cafes in the near future and 46% said they would be staying away from cinemas, raising grave concerns about the future survival of these industries.

On the other hand, 28% say lockdown has not affected their attitude towards going to a physical store again and when asked about what aspects they’d need to see to feel things were returning to normal, 66% said when social distancing was no longer mandatory and 50% say it will be when they don’t have to queue to enter a store.

When schools are fully open and everyone is returning back to work, only 5% say this would make them feel things are normal again. 36% of people said when non-essential shops open it would make them feel things are getting back to normal, with that longed-for first haircut being top priority.

“I can do my own shopping at shops I prefer and not be limited to online delivery, and also get my hair done.” Respondent

Lockdown has however helped Brits appreciate convenience of deliveries, as 91% of respondents reported to have shopped online during a lockdown. 25% said they enjoyed the excitement of receiving a delivery, citing it as something to look forward to, and enjoying the “secret santa” moment of seeing what substituted items they’d receive! The survey results also revealed a change in attitude towards online shopping, from those who have previously never tried it.

“I’m 75 and not having to queue or go into shops has meant that online shopping, which I have never before done for groceries, has felt safer & been a real bonus ” Respondent

“Whilst the results of our survey reveal caution by the British public, there are certainly glimmers of hope for reviving the retail and hospitality industries. If brands are transparent about their approach and consistent with keeping people safe in public spaces, they will see footfall gradually increase as the weeks progress. But as with the easing of lockdown, it could still take months to see anything near normality and businesses have to prepare for even the most loyal customers changing their shopping habits for good” comments Guy Redwood, founder of SimpleUsability,

He continues..

“For customers who are still getting used to shopping online, the experience they have on a website has never been more important. Simple navigation, a comprehensive search function and in-depth product descriptions will be the difference between retaining these new customers or them seeking a better experience elsewhere.”

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“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth” John. F. Kennedy
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