Eden Advertising Blog

When Your Store Reopens, Will Customers Come Back Again?

Being proactive (and admittedly, optimistic), we want to provide a snapshot of what the post-coronavirus world could look like for physical retailers as stay-at-home measures are lifted. 

With everyone still nervous about the COVID-19 virus, the one question business owners need answered is: when my store reopens, will people come?

As the USA, for better or worse, has started to reopen the country and people go back to work, there have been a number of polls and surveys done related to consumer behaviour. While we live in Canada, we can still use this information to gain insights on these behaviours, as we may act similar when stores reopen – after all, we’re all human, and we’re all consumers.

Two-thirds of people won’t go into clothing retail stores. 

A new survey from the Washington Post and University of Maryland suggests that 67% of consumers won’t be comfortable shopping in clothing stores when they reopen. Even worse is restaurants, with an overwhelming 78% of respondents saying they won’t be having a sit-down meal anytime soon. Comparatively, the majority of people (56%) say they’d be comfortable shopping in a grocery store.

What we can learn from this is it may still take a while for non-essential businesses to recoup their foot traffic and regular flow of customers even when their doors do reopen.

Consumers want to feel safe.

This is somewhat contradictory, as while consumers want to resume with their day-to-day lives and return to a pre-coronavirus routine, including their shopping habits, they remain cautious of when it’s truly safe to do so.

This survey data from First Insight ranks ‘store discomfort’ based on which types of stores they’d feel safe or very safe in. Only two types of stores – grocery and drugs – eclipsed 50% from survey participants:

  • Grocery stores — 54%
  • Drug stores — 50%
  • Big box retailers — 45%
  • Warehouse clubs — 43%
  • Local small businesses — 43%
  • Department stores — 37%
  • Shopping malls — 33%

…but foot traffic says otherwise.

Based on smartphone location data in Georgia, one of the first states to reopen, stores were flooded with people both from Georgia and out-of-state so they could shop, eat, and get their hair cut.

Foursquare location data supports these findings. In a recent blog post, they said:

“Georgia began reopening non-essential businesses on Friday, April 24. Since then, visits to health and beauty services, gyms as well as restaurants have seen significant upticks. Notably, restaurant visitation rose the most in rural and suburban areas. There was some increase in foot traffic to dining rooms in urban areas, but visitation didn’t jump nearly as drastically.”

What we can learn here is that, despite what people say in surveys, their actions suggest otherwise. People are craving offline experiences. Since everything is so early, it’s hard to predict how Canadian consumers will react when provinces begin to reopen, but we can say it’ll likely depend on store category, demographics, region, and even political affiliation (though this should be much less impactful in Canada than in the States).

More digital-first shoppers than ever.

According to a recent survey by SmarterHQ, 26% of respondents said, when it comes to ‘non-essentials’, they’d shop predominantly online.

Other surveys are supporting this growing online-first consumer base, even with physical stores implementing new safety measures and restrictions upon reopening. For example, Best Buy is only allowing ‘shopping by appointment’; Apple is asking for face masks and temperature checks before letting customers inside.

Finally, mobile ecommerce in particular is seeing an upswing in popularity. A recent Yotpo survey shows that…

  • 30% of people are using their smartphones more than pre-coronavirus times;
  • 57% of people are shopping online more than ever, and;
  • 65% of people prefer to do that online shopping via their smartphone or tablet.

The takeaway here is that smartphones will be the focal point of ecommerce moving forward, regardless of reopenings. So, not only does your business need to be able to sell its products or services online, but your website must be mobile-responsive to cater to the buyer-predominant intents of mobile traffic.

It’s clear that we’ll be entering a new era of retail, and while it’s hard to predict how much foot traffic will return Week 1, we know that people still want those offline experiences. But, because of how we’ve all had to rely on digital to buy essential and non-essential items over the past 10 weeks, there’ll be a larger market for ecommerce than ever before. So, you’ll need to make sure your online presence is strong and profitable to make up for potential lost revenues that you used to count on when people had no apprehensions entering your physical store.

The team at Eden can assist your business in building an online presence that’s visible to your target market, helping you recoup any lost in-store revenue (and more). Get in touch with us for a quote on a scalable website that’s built for ecommerce, or our many other digital marketing services.