UK retailers experienced a drop in footfall of around 60% in the second week of March, following warnings about the coronavirus outbreak – with worse set to follow, according to new figures from analyst CACI. However, the group predicts that more agile retailers will eventually emerge from the crisis with an advantage.
A survey by the group has found that the vast majority of consumers (86%) have made changes to their non-food shopping behaviour, though there have been geographic differences to the response. The research was carried out before the latest restriction on the opening of non-essential stores.
Customers in London, which has seen greater penetration of the Covid 19 virus, and Northern Ireland, which is reflecting the more rapid response to the crisis from the Irish government, were faster to make lifestyle changes. Urban consumers made changes to their routines faster than those in rural areas.
Despite being at greater risk, older consumers are less likely to have changed their behaviour than younger shoppers, with those aged 25-34 the most likely to be following official advice.
Further restrictions on movement, and an increase in cases of the disease, are expected to cause a further reduction in footfall over the coming weeks. Half of shoppers are expected to reduce their in-store retail spend, with 39% expecting to increase their online spend – though delivery networks are facing intense pressure.
Most consumers say they plan to revert to their previous behaviour when the current crisis is over.
“Whilst the consumer intention to revert to previous patterns is positive it must be remembered that we will emerge from the crisis with a unique situation where everyone’s market share is near zero and all operators are targetting all customers,” said the CACI Report by Alex McCulloch, director of CACI Property Consulting Group. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to target previously very challenging market share as all shoppers are up for grabs.”
Brands such as restaurant chain Leon could be among those agile companies. The group is turning its restaurants into mini-supermarkets and launching a new eCommerce platform, to reduce the pressure on conventional supermarkets – most of which are having to limit the number of products customers can buy…