03 Jun 2020

Low footfall and consumer confidence top of members' concerns

Low footfall and a lack of consumer confidence are some of your biggest concerns ahead of reopening on June 15.

We conducted an exclusive members' survey to gauge your feelings ahead of the reopening of non-essential retail later this month.

Of those respondents, almost 50% said they planned to reopen on June 15. Only 2% did not plan to reopen at all, with the rest already trading as per government guidance.

Fewer customers, a resistance to spend, along with safety concerns for both staff and shoppers were seen as the biggest challenges.

Michael Clark of Amy's Housewares, London, said his biggest fears was "...customers not spending, having no trust in the economy."

Matthew Rawlings of Coe's of Ipswich added: "We fear lack of footfall; have people got used to shopping online and/or is it too nerve-wracking for them to come shopping again?"

Meanwhile, Susan Copeman of Quorn Country Crafts, East Leake, said: "We will be operating differently yet still encouraging support and spending from our customers. Turnover will be down considerably. I also worry about safety and confidence of staff."

We asked you about the measures you were implementing to keep customers and staff safe which revealed to be installing Perspex screening and social distancing signage as well as stocking up on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff and hand sanitizer.

Ione Crossley of D & I Retail, Wimborne, said: "We are concerned for keeping staff safe, as if one goes we lose the whole team."

The survey also asked you to rate the Government's coronavirus advice with regards to reopening - the average score was 6.6 out of 10.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira's CEO, said: "It is great news that many retailers will be opening their doors on June 15 for the first time since March.

"I am confident that the retailers will ensure that employees and customers are safe.

"However, there is understandable anxiety regarding business and sales. Re-opening is only the beginning of a long journey back to a sustainable retail business.

"We can expect some stored-up demand, but that will be short lived and then retailers will face up to the harsh reality of lower footfall in the shops due to social distancing, and consequently lower sales.

"We will see the independents adjust their business model, implementing appointment-only in some sectors, continuing deliveries and embracing social media and the power of the internet.

"Above all else, they need the customers to come back to the shops and support their local community."

Are you reopening on June 15? Don't miss Bira's 5-point plan to make your business Covid-secure

The survey had 179 respondents. On the question of who plans to reopen, the answers were as follows:

  • My shop had always been open - 15.64%
  • My shop has recently reopened - 11.17%
  • 5.03% said my shop will be open from June 1
  • 49.72% My shop will be reopening from June 15
  • I will not be reopening - 2.23%
  •  Other 16.21%