Why is consumer confidence slow to return to the high street?
Increasing consumer confidence and footfall in the retail sector
“Please stand on the green sticker.” We’ve become accustomed to hearing phrases like this over the past couple of months as we go shopping during a pandemic. Given how alien the concept of social distancing is to many, the graphics guiding us are playing a crucial part in making adhering to the guidelines seem slightly easier.
It’s taken a little while, but the retail industry is all back up and running now, with high streets becoming increasingly busy off the back of a government drive to get people back in shops, restaurants, bars and workplaces.
However, despite signs of a recovery, data shows that on average footfall was still down 40% for the first half of August, with cities like Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, as well as central London, still more than 50% and 60% below 2019 levels.
It’s clear that there’s still a little way to go in restoring consumer confidence. With the UK’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam suggesting that virus mitigation measures will likely be in place until Spring 2021, retailers can scarcely afford to struggle on with reduced footfall. But what can the industry do to ignite a bounce back?
Graphics could hold the key to consumer confidence
Research indicates the key to increasing consumer confidence and footfall is to project an image and feeling of preparedness through clear and high-quality graphics and signage.
In a study of UK consumers, eight in 10 respondents said they are more likely to visit stores that have clear social distancing graphics.
It’s a very mixed picture right now. While some businesses have suitably invested in high-quality social distancing solutions, data shows the majority have fallen short in their efforts to satisfy consumers that they’re taking it seriously.
According to an online study by research company Censuswide, 40% of UK respondents also said that they had stopped visiting stores that had unclear signage.
In the current climate, shoppers don’t need much of an excuse to stay away from the high street. In the Office of National Statistics’ Opinions and Lifestyle Survey from mid-August, more than nine in 10 (94%) adults in the UK said they had left their home for any reason in the week previous to being questioned. However, only 49% of adults reported that they felt either very comfortable or comfortable about leaving home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Somewhat surprisingly, shoppers aged between 16 to 34 were most likely to be influenced by in-store signage, with 54% reporting that they had stopped using stores with poor social distancing signage and 78% saying they were more likely to visit a shop with clear signage.
This compared to 38% of 35 to 54-year-olds and 36% of people aged 55 or over who said they had stopped using stores with poor signage.
The study found that the stores with the most unclear signage are clothes shops (according to 21% of respondents), supermarkets and grocery stores (19%) and restaurants and bars (16%).
Differentiation through signage
With signage having such a sway in where shoppers shop right now, it’s clear that this can be a point of difference while helping to restore consumer confidence in their brand.
Brands have played it fairly straight with their COVID signage so far, with most opting for informative and generic. But is there an opportunity to make it more brand-friendly moving forward?
Businesses might deem it unnecessary but it could convince shoppers that a brand is taking the measures seriously and not doing it in half-measures. Undoubtedly, the focus should remain on educating shoppers and ensuring signage makes it easy for them to navigate a retail store confidently and safely.
Of course, signage is not the only means of mitigating risk and protecting shoppers and staff. Here’s a selection of the coronavirus-ready solutions offered by Service Graphics:
· Collection pods
· Counter screens
· Distancing barriers
· Queuing pods
· Sanitising stations
· Floor graphics
· Roller banners
The range can be easily branded for your business, showing your stakeholders that you’re not complying by half-measures. In many ways, your social distancing aids are as much a marketing ploy as they are a safety necessity – they will help attract customers who will be reassured by the very sight of them.
Our teams are here to help and guide you through the full range of options and printed solutions we offer.